The following is from GasGas, regarding its 2018 Dakar Rally Team, featuring Jonathan Barragán, Johnny Aubert and Cristian España, with Giovanni Sala as Rally Team Manager:
The Torrot Company has made it possible for GasGas to return to the toughest rally raid in the world, the 2018 Dakar Rally, which will be racing through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. After two years of absence, the GasGas Rally Team is ready to participate in the next edition of the rally with a competitive team including Jonathan Barragán, Johnny Aubert and Cristian España, and directed by the experienced Giovanni Sala, as Rally Team Manager.
After having competed four times in the prestigious endurance race -from 2012 to 2015-, GasGas returns to the Dakar with an ambitious project to face the greatest off-road challenge. Therefore, GasGas has chosen to provide their Dakar bikes with KTM engines, the best option that exists to dispute that race.
“It’s a question of pride to return to a historic brand such as GasGas to the world elite of motorcycling with its participation in a rally with the demands of the Dakar. This is the confirmation that we have managed to turn around the Company situation and position it again as a world leader in off-road motorcycling “, affirms the CEO of Torrot, Iván Contreras.” Our expectation this year is to race again in this type of competition to have greater aspirations in the near future” he added.
Johnny Aubert returns to the Dakar after having participated in the 2012 edition. The double world enduro champion will be accompanied by the Spanish rider Jonathan Barragán, who is making his debut in this mythical race together with the Andorran rider Cristian España, participating for the third time in the Dakar after winning the Marathon category last year and finishing 21st in the general standings.
The GasGas Rally Team is looking forward to its return to the Dakar, starting on Saturday, January 6th in Lima, the capital of Peru and ending on Saturday, January 20th in Cordoba, Argentina. Barragán, Aubert and España will compete throughout the 14 stages -with one day of rest-, to complete more than 8,000 kilometres (4,234 of them special) and race through three countries of the South American continent: Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. This year’s will be the 40th edition of the most emblematic off-road event.
GIOVANNI SALA: “All our riders have exceptional driving technique and great experience. Aubert and España have already participated in the Dakar, and for Barragán this will mean his debut, although it will be his second rally. The team has a very good feeling of camaraderie, something essential to face a ‘marathon’ as long as the Dakar. This 40th anniversary edition has been designed to return to the classic difficulties of this race, a challenging route with many kilometres among dunes and on sand, and with 2 stages without assistance. At a mechanical level, this experience will allow us to transmit our feelings to GasGas engineers, who in turn can reflect this in the bikes we offer our customers. The first goal is for our three bikes to finish this demanding race. Then the challenge will be to get back to the ‘top ten’ of the final classification.”
JONATHAN BARRAGÁN: “The Dakar has always been a dream for me. It’s an attractive but complicated challenge, because it’s two weeks long and I’ve never spent a fortnight racing on a motorcycle. Despite this, I believe that the time has come and we are ready to accept the opportunity that Torrot has given us. I still have to get into the swing of the race, because this will be my first time competing. I know it will be a very hard rally and my goal is not to make big navigation mistakes, take care of the mechanics and avoid falls. We make a great team together with Johnny [Aubert] and Cristian [España], and I am sure that Giovanni Sala’s experience in the Dakar will be of great help to us. This is our first Dakar as a team; our goal is to complete each stage and have our three bikes finish the race, which would mean we have done a great job.”
JOHNNY AUBERT: “The Dakar has always been my dream. I already raced in the Dakar in 2012, but I was left with the feeling that I could demonstrate much more. That’s why I’m happy to be at the start of this magical race thanks to Torrot. I’m doing it with a very special team and brand, with a long tradition in ‘off-road’ and with important objectives to achieve. Our team is made up of passionately enthusiastic people, starting with Gio Sala, who I know from the Enduro World Championship, Jordi Arilla, Josep María Giralt and Jordi Grau amongst others. I know that the coming Dakar will be long, intense and exciting. I’m still improving in the navigation section and I know I have to be patient; each day will be a step forward. My goal as a rider is the same as that of the team: I want to do everything possible to prove that GasGas is back. I want my bike to reach the end, along with those of my two companions.”
CRISTIAN ESPAÑA: “The call from GasGas was a surprise. After the good results of the last few years, I knew that something like this could happen, but the truth is that it took me by surprise. We met, I was presented with the project and… I simply loved it! I am very happy to have signed up with a great brand like Torrot. I feel fortunate being a part of the official GasGas team, surrounded by people who are great professionals. I am very motivated to face this new challenge in my sporting career. I have shown that I am a fast rider and that I can bring a lot of experience to the team, both on a personal level and as a navigator. We are leaving for the Dakar with a very clear premise, finish and help in every way so our three bikes to reach the end, in Cordoba.”