British off-road legend David Knight has given himself until December 1 to raise enough money to back his assault on the 2021 Dakar Rally.
Over a long and decorated career Knighter has taken three world enduro championships, two GNCC crowns, indoor and extreme titles, an outright ISDE win, 10 ACU British enduro titles, seven Weston Beach Race wins, a British Expert trials champion’s medal and an MBE – but he’s still struggling to pull enough backing together to get on the startline in Saudi Arabia on January 3 after a sponsor dropped out.
A gofundme page currently sits at just over £16,000 raised out of an £85K target and Knighter is hoping this total will rise and, along with other sponsorship, will be enough.
“The bikes go out on December 1 so if I’m at 70 grand then I’ll go for it and leave the fund open until I get back,” he said. “If I’m not then I’ll have to draw a line under it. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this for the last year-and-a-half – that’s all that’s been on my mind. It’s hard when you’ve got a family but you have to sacrifice stuff.
“Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll be able to raise enough but there are lots of people helping and it all adds up. I’ve missed out on a few factory rides for Dakar – something’s always got in the way – so I sort of gave up on it because I figured that nothing was going to happen. I still wanted to do it but I didn’t want to get my hopes up and then be disappointed again.”
The 42-year-old Manxman – who qualified for Dakar with victory in the Rally 2 class at the Andalusia Rally in October – has teamed up with Dutch rally raid mover and shaker Henk Hellegers who arranges package deals for competitors.
“A lot of people had mentioned Henk to me – he runs his own set-up with Husqvarnas and you can pay to ride. You pay the money and everything’s there which was spot on because I had a sponsor who was going to pay everything. Now I’ve been dropped in it – big time. I had offers on the table for a couple of good things over here but I sacked them off for the Dakar because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t do it.
“ASO [Dakar organisers] have been good. They understand. I think a lot of people are struggling to do it so they’ve put my entry in – I just need to pay for it. I was talking to a guy yesterday who’s based in Germany who’s a manager for a lot of the boys who do the Dakar and he said ‘we’re all in the same boat’.
“During lockdown I did a lot of running and mountain biking and dropped a load of weight and I feel real good. My hip’s not giving me any hassle, I’ve been doing stuff on a 500 KTM and I’m riding better that I have been for years.”
To donate to Knighter’s fighting fund Click here