May 20, 2016 at 10:02 pm #12980
Rank: 1200cc Rider
- Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
- Bike: Suzuki DR650 ADV
Touratech Stuns the Rally World
May 18, 2016
Touratech stunned the rally world last week when they placed 2nd overall at the Hellas Rally in Greece. The noteworthy detail is that the bike that made it on the podium was not a 450cc racebike, but rather a Touratech-modified Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin. In the spirit of rally and to signify the heavy modifications to the bike, Touratech listed it as a CRF1000RR on the event registration.
The company has a long history of using race environments to stress-test their technology and aftermarket parts for adventure touring motorcycles. They’ve entered F800GS bikes in 12-hour enduro competitions like Dawn to Dusk and even fielded a team of F650RR bikes in the Dakar Rally nearly a decade ago. The product development team believes there is no better way to test parts than in the harsh environment of enduro and rally-racing where the bikes, components and racers are pushed to the limit. Although the team’s mission is to test parts and technology, they do like to push the limits of what can be achieved with modified adventure bikes when pitted against competition dirt bikes.
While Touratech always aims to do well, no one in the company expected to see them finish on the podium in the overall standings. Of the 150 bikes entered into this FIM-sanctioned Rally, most of them were 450cc competition race bikes that weigh-in at nearly half the weight of the Touratech modified CRF 1000RR Africa Twin. The race took place over 6-days in the rugged country side of Greece. Competitors put in 100 to 125 miles of racing each day and additional transit sections of 30 to 60 miles between stages.
The Hellas Rally does have a twin cylinder division, in which the Touratech Africa Twin bike was looking to place on the podium. While the team was very happy to learn they won that category, they where shocked to have a 2nd place finish in the overall competition.
“It’s not so easy to compete against the light enduro bikes on such a heavy motorcycle, but Dirk held an amazing pace over the last 6 days,“ said Lars Wurderman, Team Manager and Director of Touratech Suspension.
The terrain challenged riders with rugged mountain tracks, rocky river beds and even some high speed runs down the stunning beaches that line the emerald mediterranean sea.
When recapping the sixth day, Dirk Von Zitzewitz remarked, “Today on the long sandy beach section, I looked down at the speedometer and saw 195kph (120 mph). I scared myself a bit and was happy to be done with that section.”
The Bike: Touratech started with a production 2016 CRF1000L motorcycle and modified it to fit the demands of a multi-day stage rally competition. The stock set-up was replaced with a Touratech Suspension Extreme shock in the rear and a closed-cartridge system in the front forks. With these modifications, the suspension had more in common with a motocross bike than an adventure touring machine. A navigation tower was built to house the road book, computer and other required equipment. They shaved weight where they could and added reinforcements and protection to help ensure the bike would go the distance. Some of the parts on this project bike will be available to consumers as production parts. The list includes: heavy-duty wheel set, rally seat, skid plate, crash bars and more.
The Rider: Dirk von Zitzewitz began his racing career at age 14 and went on to be a contender on the world enduro circuit. He later competed in the Dakar Rally in both the motorcycle and car divisions. He finished a career best in 1997 with a 5th overall in the motorcycle division and went on to win stages in 1999. From there he went to the car competition as a navigator and had much success with 4 stage wins and the overall win in 2009.
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