“I’m keeping the same approach that I’ve learned over the Dakar, which is that you have to go into it with the knife between your teeth and manage the unexpected as best you can. But this is my fourth Dakar, so there is a little obligation to get a result. I hope to benefit from all that my new team will bring me, in particular the good advice of my team-mates, and why not go for a Top 15 finish. They already have a good level in rally-raid, so to be able to draw inspiration from them will be good. I did well last year (21st) but I could have done better. I dropped out of the Top 20 on the last day by making a mistake. That just goes to show that you can’t give up until the end. Every day is important and you have to keep your composure to overcome all the obstacles, the moments of doubt, the under-performances… A crash put me out of the running for a while on the first day of the Rallye du Maroc 2023, but after that I was able to compare myself with my team-mates, get to grips with the team and make my first Top 15 on a race of this level. It’s all been positive. I’ve still got one more psychological hurdle to clear and that’ll be good.
Mathieu Dovèze is one of the new faces of French rally-raid. He is part of the ‘Covid generation’, the group of drivers whose confinement precipitated their departure for rally-raid, including compatriots Dumontier, Chapelière and Jagu. An endurance racer until 2020, the rider from Nancy has embarked on the rally adventure with the immediate ambition of entering the Dakar. A goal worthy of a self-taught rider, brought up in a family that wasn’t into off-road motorcycling. Placing 29th on his first Dakar, ‘Much’, as his mother nicknamed him, made his mark on the national scene by finishing as the 3rd best French rider. But a crash on the first stage in 2022 dashed his hopes of a Top 20 finish. Mathieu learned from this experience and changed his approach to the sport, willing to take the time he needed to learn and grow. This approach enabled him to progress in 2023, finishing 21st and narrowly missing out on that famous Top 20. He hopes that will be the case in 2024. The Frenchman, who has made a habit of finishing every rally he takes part in, is now wearing the BAS World KTM Racing Team jersey. He intends to draw inspiration from his team-mates, some of whom play leading roles in Rally2, to continue his ascent in the caravan.