“When I was younger, I competed in the Dakar as a rider and then as a professional driver, but now that I’m 50 years old and still have the stamina to do so, I wanted to do the Dakar again on a motorcycle.
1997 was my first challenge on a Dakar bike! I met a lot of friends and I’m still friend with them to this day. I believe that in 1997 I had an important experience that shaped my life. Everything comes back to me as if it happened recently. The Dakar taught me how to think… It’ll be my first time in Saudi Arabia, and it will be a challenge to my mental and physical strength, as well as patience.”
When the bug bites, it never lets go. Twenty-seven years after first competing on the Dakar on a bike, Yoshio Ikemachi returns on two wheels. But between those two dates, the Japanese has witnessed so much on the rally. He actually first came on the event a year before really participating. He was then the co-driver of a press car discovering the landscapes of Africa and getting ready for quite a challenge. A solid rally-raid specialist who started on two wheels, Ikemachi managed wonders for his first appearances, finishing 16th in 1997 and 10th a year later when the Dakar ended in Cairo. He then turned to cars, supported by Nissan, also reaching the finish twice in the same exact position: 22nd (including 2nd place in the T2 class in 2006). So why has he decided to return on a bike? Simply to prove to himself that at over 50 years of age, he still has what it takes to do it. The rider from Kobe who will be part of the Bas World KTM Racing team is up for the challenge and is keen to remind that the Dakar is what taught him to think.