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2021 Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team - Pre 2021 Dakar PR Images

ANDREW SHORT: “It’s all just a big sense of adventure.”

Jan 042021

Ricky Brabec in a passenger car and rolling towards the airport and airplane that will deliver the defending Dakar Rally Champion to Saudi Arabia where he’ll put his fists up, have his fangs out and climb into the ring and prepare to defend his 2020 title.

‘It’s always good, I believe, to train with another Dakar Rally racer, so that way you can get some experience gauging speed and time and when you go to the line at Dakar on Day One,” said the Californian. “Andrew Short is great. Andrew is, in my opinion, a really good asset. He is smart. He’s full of information, whether it’s supercross, motocross, parts preferences, bike preferences. He’s been around a very long time and he’s not an airhead.”

Smack before one Andrew Short and the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team WR450F with his name and race number on it, looms the 2021 version of the Dakar Rally, And that blue bike with the green Monster Energy decals on it? Think of it as a quarter million dollar two-wheel version F1 car poised to roll out and wreak havoc on the 12-stage, 3,000-mile Saharan Odyssey known simply as “Dakar.” Short, a 16-year Monster Energy AMA Supercross and Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship challenger here in the U.S. and contesting the 5,000-mile, two-week Dakar Rally.

Just ask Andrew Short. Short, of Colorado, is also a Motocross of Nations champion with Team USA who won nine AMA races and hit the podium 55 different times) and the competitive flame still burns blue for him. Having put the work in and plotted and schemed for the task at hand, Short now wants nothing more than to win the Dakar Rally and while glancing over his blue, green and black Yamaha WR450F, we stuck a recorder in his face and got the untold story of the who, where, what and why of the 2021 Dakar Rally.

How do you feel about the mission you’re about to click into gear.

I’m stoked. I love rally and it’s been a pretty cool adventure.


A hell of a lot goes into tooling-up for such a prolific and globally recognized rally as the Dakar Rally. I mean both you and Yamaha are all-in with this event. Can you speak to all that?

Yeah, that’s what’s so cool about rally. In motocross, you go fast during the race and go hard from the time the gate drops until the checkered flag. In rally (laughter,) there are so many things that go into it. It’s not just about speed. It goes from the preparation beforehand and even thinking about what to pack and bring and the travel and it’s just a big sense of adventure from the time you sign-up or commit to it. This is what attracts rally to me and that rally spirit and what it stands for. You always have to adapt and do the best with what you have. You see and encounter all kinds of things and you have to have an open mindset. This is just part of it and I definitely think Rally Racers are two different suited for 2020 because you have had so many ups-and-downs and lefts and rights that’s perfect for us.


Precisely. You adapted, huh?


So when you get to Saudi Arabia, where do you go?

The first hurdle was traveling because of the COVID, all of the regular flights were cancelled, even if you had a visa. The promoter ASO, who also does the Tour de France, charter flights from all over to get people to the race and you have a 48-hour quarantine and a COVID test. Once you’re inside the bubble where the race is going to start and finish, you pretty much don’t leave, which is fine for rally. They have a bivouac setup which is essentially just pits if you’re a racer. It goes from place to place. So yeah, the first little bit it’s a lot of scrutineering, checks and safety checks and all kinds of this nature that takes place at the beginning, but once the racing starts, it seems like your mind never turns off or stops. Your body is always moving and thinking and trying to strategize what’s going to happen in the coming days, so you’re wide-open and full-gas.


What a cool counter-balance it is that you’re now a world class rally competitor lining up in Jeddah to make a run at victory. You won the greatest motocross race in the world (Motocross of Nations at the 2010) and now you’re racing in the greatest Dakar race in the world.

Well, I think it’s a passion, you know? I love riding dirt bikes and it doesn’t really matter if I’m racing or riding. It can be trails or mountains or going to Baja – wherever – I love it all. It’s massive worldwide the attention this race gets. This is an epic life experience. We get to go do it and initially I was so enthralled by the race and what it stood for. I raced a lot of motocross races all over the world from Japan to Europe and Supercross races all over the place. To do an event like this, an event that I never cared about or knew about until just recently. This is something that will be a part of me and leaves an impression for the rest of my life. It’s also cool to be surrounded by people that are SO committed and people who want to be the best.


I’ve spoken to Ricky Brabec all week and he’s been extremely complimentary of both you and your professionalism. How do you like working and training and testing with Ricky and Johnny Campbell and the entire Honda HRC outfit?

Yeah, I do nothing but the technical side with them, you know? I’m a completely different program. For one, it was really awesome to have had an American do so well at Dakar and do the unthinkable. It’s like the Americans winning 6 Days (Note: International Six Days Enduro race which has been held since 1913). Forever, no one thought that would ever happen and to see Ricky win and overcome all of that, it’s huge. Just to be a part of that group and to ride and train with those guys. Jimmy Lewis has been a huge asset with the navigation part. He’s got a great mind for sharing and teaching and learning for dirt bikes. We’ve had access to deserts back in America. All of us got together and we were able to ride and do a lot of navigation and road book training. I have to be good at navigation because I’m not willing to take the chances and go as fast as I can. I mean Ricky goes really fast in the desert because he grew up there and he knows it and it’s part of his DNA. I have to really lean on navigation to be good and to have a chance. I like that aspect. Hard to learn. I really underestimated that.

Supercross racer hauling-ass at 110 miles an hour on flat dirt and trying to read everything and trying to deal with the navigation… How is that for you? I mean you came from racing on insane tracks in stadiums before 50,000 fans and you’re out there in the middle of nowhere…

If you’re going in the right direction, it definitely helps! If you’re confident in where you’re going. I mean you’re riding for hours on end. You make one mistake or go the wrong direction, that's 15 minutes. There is so much that goes into it. Everything is gnarly. If your bike breaks out there, you have to fix it yourself. These are things that I never had to carry or even think about in Supercross, these are skills that value. It’s just one thing after another in the rally.


I know you’ve got to run. Can you win this thing?

I really feel like I had a really good chance last year to win, but had some stuff happen to me on day one and day two and my race was over. I’ve never been so dejected. Dude, I was in a bad spot after that. I had a good opportunity and it just didn’t go my way. For this year I have a little bit more of an open mentality, especially this year. I don’t want to crash. I have to be in it every day and if I can make it to the rest day in a good position, I’ll be in a good spot to do good in week two. I need to be a little smarter. I need to let the race come to me. Last year I felt like I had a good opportunity to win it, but forced it and crashed and made some poor decisions. I wanted it too much. This year, I think I have a great chance at doing well. We’ll see what happens.