After the positive debut of the last edition, there will be three riders driving the XEF Rally 450: Salvini, Picco and Internò.
The most fascinating and toughest motoring adventure will start in Saudi Arabia in four days, and Fantic re-proposes itself as the protagonist with the XEF Rally 450 Factory in the definitive version presented at EICMA Milan last November.
After the experience gained with Franco Picco during the Dakar 2022 and in the tests of the World Rally Raid Championship, the bike has now been entrusted to a team of three riders with experience and an important curriculum: Alex Salvini, Tiziano Internò and again the veteran Picco will be driving the Fantic XEF Rally 450 Factory among the sands from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf in this 45th edition of the rally-raid.
It will be an 8,538 kilometers long challenge for men and vehicles, of which almost five thousand of special stages, in 14 legs in addition to the 11-kilometre prologue on December 31st, with a rest day in the middle of the rally on January 9 in Ryad.
Departure from the camp overlooking the seashore on the west coast of the Arabian peninsula and arrival on January 15th in Dammam, with daily routes ranging from 376 kilometers to 877 kilometers long.
The Fantic team is ready: riders, mechanics and bikes have already arrived in Saudi Arabia and are preparing for all the verification operations before the start. There is anticipation for everything that the trident of riders fielded by the team will be able to provide in terms of experience and sporting results.
A lot of attention is paid to Alex Salvini, 37-year-old rider from Bologna, a former cross rider who then moved on to enduro where he was crowned World Champion in 2013. In his palmarés there are thirteen Italian titles between cross and enduro, one European Supercross title, and with many other team victories both at world and European continental level.
He took part in his first rally in Andalucia last October, but, in fact, he's a rookie for the marathon in the dunes: "Here at the Dakar I have to gain experience - said Alex - everything is new, from the rules to navigation. I learned the basics from my teammates and from some sand tests in the past months, but I have to understand how this adventure works. I'll do my best, but I won't force the pace right away, we'll see what happens in the first stages ».
The legendary Franco Picco represents a guarantee, without the need for presentations: from Vicenza, born in 1955, he contributed to the development of the Fantic XEF Rally 450 by completing the last Dakar in 72nd position (3rd among the Italian competitors on arrival) and conquering the title of vice world champion in the Senior class in the just ended season of the World Rally Raid Championship.
He's the pilot who probably enjoys the longest competitive curriculum in dune races, and this is his 29th presence in the race: a former titled cross racer, making his debut almost by chance in the distant 1985 at the then Paris-Dakar, on that occasion he conquered the 3rd place overall after some stages even leading the race.
Here began his career as a professional rally-raid driver, in which he collected, during the second half of the 80’s, two 2nd places, a 5th and a 10th position as well as two victories at the Pharaohs’ Rally in 1986 and 1992.
He temporarily left the two wheels from 1996 to 2009 to participate in the race driving cars, or on assistance trucks. In 2010, at the Dakar in Argentina, he returned to his origins by conquering the victory in the Marathon class and the 23rd place overall. In the following years, until 2017, he took part in the race with different vehicles, motorbikes, quads and trucks.
In 2018/19/20 he started the Africa Eco Race (Monaco-Dakar), finishing it twice in 10th place and once in 54th.
In January 2021, at the age of 65, he returned to the Dakar racing in the "Moto Malle" category, which by regulation dictates that only the rider can carry out assistance on the motorcycle, and finished in 43rd place overall, 2nd among the Italian drivers.
At the Dakar 2022 he rode the first Fantic XEF Rally 450, and today he is at the starting line with the Factory bike developed on this experience.
Tiziano Internó is part of the new generation of drivers, known by all enthusiasts for his followed and appreciated social-media channels Rally POV.
After competing at the highest levels in Enduro from 2006 to 2015, he temporarily abandoned the competitions to devote himself to the development of startups and ideas without however ever assuaging his passion for off-road.
In 2019, after returning from a trip to North Cape by bicycle, he decides to try and make one of his deepest and most deeply rooted dreams come true: racing the Dakar.
With determination and a pinch of madness, he began to pursue his dream by narrating it on video through the Rally POV (Point of View - Point of Life) channel, a travel diary "from zero to the Dakar".
« At the age of 16, competing meant measuring yourself and others with the drive to want to emerge and demonstrate that you are the best. - says Tiziano - Today I no longer want to compete, but to enjoy and live every single moment at work and in every experience, even sporting.
I wish to communicate and tell the journey of racing which is nothing but a great journey within oneself»
In 2021 he thus manages to take part in his first Dakar which, despite withdrawing from the 3rd stage due to injury, allows him to rise to the fore by narrating on his channels the behind-the-scenes of the race of all the Italians in the race.
In 2022, after various projects including his participation at the International 2021 Six Days of Enduro in Italy, always narrated through RallyPov, he completes the Dakar by describing it day by day on video and making the DocuFilm "A Dream called Dakar".
Today he is preparing to drive the Fantic XEF450 Rally Factory in the "Malle Moto" category, by regulation without the assistance of the mechanics: to complete the toughest rally he will have at his disposal his tenacity, an 80x40x35 case containing tools and spare parts, 2 wheels and a tent.