Svitko showed speed, courage and humanity at the Rally

• The most successful Slovak racer won the 8th place in the general ranking of Dakar
• In the toughest races in the world Svitko had the official status of "Dakar Legend"
• According to Svitko, this year's Dakar was fast, wild, but safer compared to the previous year

BRATISLAVA, January 17, 2021 – The three-time European champion, multiple Slovak champion in enduro and cross country and the most successful Slovak motorcycle rider Štefan Svitko returned from Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, January 16, 2021. For the twelfth time he raced at the most prestigious race in the world, the Dakar Rally, in the colours of the Slovnaft Rally Team. In the list of motorcycle racers, the organizers have marked his name with the label of the official "Dakar Legend", status which only a few world riders have earned.


Štefan Svitko once again confirmed that he is prepared for the most extreme races in the world physically, mentally and technically. After the two-week race Svitko won the 8th place in the general ranking. He thus improved his good performance from last year, when he took 11th place among the world's top riders. He is pleased to confirm his position in the elite TOP 10. "I wanted to drive well in every stage and to give a balanced performance during the whole rally, which I managed to do. This year’s Dakar was safer compared to last one. Not only thanks to a better organization, but especially due to the safety measures that applied on the Dakar for the first time. I fell with an airbag vest myself and I also witnessed the falls of some other riders." Svitko helped the injured Argentinian Luciano Benavides in the 9th stage, which led through a rocky terrain and was marked by a number of falls. The Argentinian broke his arm during the fall and Svitko waited with him until the arrival of the helicopter with the doctor.


„After last year's tragedy of Paul Goncalves and Edwin Straver, this year the organizers not only provided us with inflatable vests, but we were equipped with warning signals and speed limits of 90 km / h applied on some sections of the track. All this had not only a physical but also a psychological effect.“, added Svitko.


In each of the 12 stages of Dakar, Svitko was in the elite group of 20 fastest riders. He has not remembered such a balanced and consistent performance ever since his beginnings at the Dakar Rally. „This year I had almost no performance fluctuations in the individual stages. I knew what I wanted and I went my way aiming to reach the best possible racing position,“ adds Svitko.


Extremes of this year’s Dakar did not surprise Svitko even in terms of fitness nor health. Again, it was a great adventure, despite strict anti-pandemic measures. „The condition for the start was to have negative tests and the organizers kept us in the separate "bubble" all the time. On the spot we have already focused exclusively on racing. The sandy terrain is always demands a great fitness. I'm not at all surprised that I came back three kilograms thinner. But I'll catch up fast at home. I am now in mandatory quarantine, which I will use for resting.“


Svitko again rode a KTM 450 Rally Replica motorcycle this year. During the desert race, he was assisted by his long-time mechanic Zlatko Novosád.
„From a technical point of view, we had a good year. There were no serious disturbances, despite the dusty environment,“ says Zlatko Novosád.
This year the Slovnaft Rally Team had a new member at Dakar. For the first time a woman took part in the team - Daniela Ozanová was in charge of logistics. This was not her first presence at Dakar, in the past she has already joined the race with the Polish team. „This year's Dakar tasted a little differently than in the past. Števo is among the world's top motorbike riders and has respect among them. We can't compare the size of our team with large factory teams, but with our coordination we were able to compensate for it,“ says Daniela Ozanová.


This year's Dakar started on January 3, 2021 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and ended on January 15, 2021 in the same city. All special sections within the stages were completely new compared to the previous year. The route led from Jeddah to the north through the inland. About halfway through the race, the route continued south, copying the Red Sea coast.


Since his premiere at the Dakar in 2010, Štefan Svitko has started in all years of the race with the support of Slovnaft. He finished thirteenth in the motorcycle category in his first Dakar and became the most successful newcomer. The following year, due to a motorcycle failure, he did not complete the eighth stage and had to resign. Two years later, he had an unpleasant fall and withdrew from the competition only three stages before the finish. In 2013 he was ninth, and in 2012 and 2015 he took fifth place. In 2016, he triumphed in a fantastic 2nd place. In 2018, after falling in the 10th stage and a shoulder injury he was forced to end the Dakar race prematurely. In 2019 he had to withdraw from the race due to a motorcycle failure, but last year he finished in 11th place overall. In Dakar, Svitko is a highly respected motorbike rider and part of the world's elite.

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