“A huge adventure between mates”
David Watson's route to the Dakar hasn't been an easy one. It started innocently enough with conversations while out with one of his trail riding mates Steve Hague, who'd competed in the Dakar when it was still being run in Africa. Steve's stories piqued Dave's interest and his ambition slowly grew from there. In 2014 he entered the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in order to build up the requisite experience but it ended in disaster when he crashed on the last day and broke his back and both his ankles. After that he spent 6 weeks in a wheelchair and another 12 weeks in a back brace. But in spite of all that he went through and the months of physio, 1 year later he was back on the start line in Abu Dhabi and followed that up with the Libya Rally and in 2016 the Merzouga.
“I didn't finally decide to enter the Dakar until after I'd finished the Merzouga. When I raced my second Desert Challenge I still wasn't right physically but after the Merzouga I felt confident that I was up to the challenge of racing the Dakar. People often ask me if my accident put me off but in a way it just made me more determined. I'd originally planned to enter with a UK team but they withdrew when a couple of riders dropped out and so I decided to enter the Malle Moto class. Very fortunately for me after my Malle Moto entry was confirmed my friend Graham decided I was raising the bar too high by trying to race unassisted, went out a bought a 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter and announced he was putting a team together. Just a couple of days later I meet my ex-brother in law while out walking the dog and he said he'd come too and then a third friend also threw his hat into the ring. They are all paying for it out of their own pockets, so what started out as a disaster, before turning into a solitary enterprise, has turned into a huge adventure between mates. My only ambition has always been just to finish the race, but now I'll be trying to do it as much for my friends as for myself.”