Team Husqvarna Monster Energy Speedbrain will compete in the opening round of the FIM Rally World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, with riders David Frétigné and Frans Verhoeven.
The team will race as the official Husqvarna factory team with their TE 449 RR, derived from the race bike developed around the BMW G 450 X and the engine of the Husqvarna Enduro TE 449, meaning the experience and development from past events and the Dakar 2011 will be continued with a successful setup. While Dakar stage winner Frans Verhoeven hopes to carry on where he left in January, Frenchman David Frétigné will make a comeback after being sidelined with an injury.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge kicks off with a prologue at the Abu Dhabi Marina Mall on Saturday, before offering five stages between Sunday and Thursday. Frétigné and Verhoeven will face the competition of Dakar winner Marc Coma, Francisco Lopez Contardo and Helder Rodrigues, among others.
Husqvarna is entering two factory bikes after having seen what the motorcycle is capable of during the recent Dakar. Husqvarna Motorcycles, being the offroad arm of the BMW Group, therefore decided to keep an effective formula.
"The goal here in Abu Dhabi is to achieve a top result," says team principal Wolfgang Fischer ahead of the first world championship round.
"Our Speedbrain-developed machine has proven its worthiness in South America. We´re confident in our two riders and it´s also good to have David back. We showed at several Dakar stages what is possible. For now we stick to what we have, because we know it works."
Klaus Allisat, CEO of Husqvarna Motorcycles: "I am really proud that Husqvarna is entering raid rally motorcycle racing also. This discipline is important to our brand. It is a further clear signal of the integration between Husqvarna and BMW in the sports segment."