Frans Verhoeven’s progression on the Dakar continues to improve. In his first participation, as a mere privateer, he finished 16th. This result led the Dutchman to become Cyril Despres’ rapid assistance rider two years later. Then he was allowed to ride for himself with a factory KTM bike, which resulted in two stages wins on his first South American expedition. After a two year spell with BMW, punctuated with bad luck but ending with a silver lining when he won the final stage in 2011, Verhoeven now begins a new adventure with the Croco Adventure Sherco Rally Raid Team. A new machine and new ambitions for the 45-year old rider who admits to never being this relaxed before a Dakar and he has all needs to put in an excellent ride.
F. V.: “While I was on vacation this past summer in the south of France, I was contacted by Sherco. We met and our meeting lasted from noon to 7pm and it went very well. A week later I did my first test with the bike. With a new gearbox, the bike is very reliable. I did 6000kms with the same engine and that will be very important for the upcoming Dakar because I believe the other teams are planning on doing an engine chance and taking a 15-minute penalty. I was able to gauge myself against the other riders on the Morocco Rally and was in contention for the podium just until the final stage. I tried to break everything on the bike to really test its reliability. Today everything is set up ad I am rather confident. This is the first time I have felt this relaxed before a Dakar. At my age, I want to race for a top finish. Consistency is my strongest attribute. But each year the level of competition is more and more elevated. You can never be sure, but I aiming for a top five finish.”