MV Agusta presents involvement in 2023 Dakar Rally

The 2023 Dakar could seemingly feature an entry from a somewhat unlikely source, as MV Agusta rebirths an historic time from the days of Cagiva.

Lucky Explorer Cagiva Elefant 900 at 2023 Dakar Rally presentation in Schiranna.

The 2022 Dakar seems as though it only just passed. The success of Danilo Petrucci grabbed asphalt fans like never before for the great cross-country rally, and the second victory of Sam Sunderland also took GasGas to the top for the first time in their history. 

But, even though it is only June, the 2023 Dakar is already being prepared, and was presented to the Italian public earlier this month.
The presentation happened in Schiranna on 15 June, in the historic headquarters of the famous Italian brand: MV Agusta

MV Agusta itself does not have much history in the Dakar, but its current form is of course derived from Cagiva. Although Cagiva was perhaps better known for its exploits in Grand Prix road racing - with, it must be said, one of the prettiest race bikes of all-time, and pilots such as Eddie Lawson and John Kocinski - it also featured in the Dakar with the Lucky Explorer team in the 1990s. 

Then, Cagiva won the Dakar twice in the Lucky Explorer colours with the Elefant 900. First, with Edi Orioli in 1990, ending Honda’s streak of four victories in succession. Then, in 1994, they ended Yamaha’s and Stefan Peterhansel’s three-win streak, again with Orioli. Peterhansel would win again in 1995, before Orioli won himself with Yamaha in 1996.

The Dakar has not been won by an Italian brand since, and the last Italian rider to win was Fabrizio Meoni, who won back-to-back Dakars in 2001 and 2002 with KTM, first with the LC8 950R, and then with the LC4 660R. Those two victories were the first of a period of domination for KTM, who went unbeaten until 2020, when Ricky Brabec won with Honda. Such dominance resulted in a competitive factory replica model, which was just launched in the 2023 spec by the Austrian brand.

For 2023, MV Agusta’s marketing director, Filippo Bassoli, said that the Varese marque’s Lucky Explorer concept - that was first unveiled at last year’s EICMA - will be somehow a part of the Dakar Rally. How, exactly, remains to be seen, but in some ways it can be argued that KTM’s domination of the rally in recent years is part of a European domination that began with Cagiva and the Lucky Explorer Elefant of the 1990s. It would be some circle to close for MV, should it choose to compete.

EICMA 2021: New MV Agusta Lucky Explorer and New MV Agusta 950 Adventure 2022

EICMA 2021: New MV Agusta Lucky Explorer and New MV Agusta 950 Adventure 2022