Meet the Maxxis Dakar Team as They Prepare for the 2016 Dakar Rally

Dakar Rally racers, Tim Coronel and Maikel Verkade, of the Maxxis Dakar Team, talk about the Dakar, and all things loud and fast!

 

Looks can be deceiving, as we roll up to the lovely Dutch country home nestled between trees and a golf course. A fairly innocuous thatched roof shed reveals something much cooler once inside. At the back they have dug out a lower floor to reveal a secret man-cave like something out of a James Bond film (the good Bond movies that is…you know with Sean Connery and Roger Moore). Welcome to the team HQ of  Dutch car racing, and rally driver, Tim Coronel. Who, along with his equally famous twin brother Tom, owns and manages the Maxxis Dakar Team.

Maxxis Dakar Team

So what’s that got to do with motorcycles, we hear you ask? Well this year, Tim (quite wisely in our opinion) included 2 motorcyclists in his team to take on the legendary Dakar Rally. So we also have the pleasure of meeting Dutch motocross racer, Maikel Verkade, who’s taking on his first ever attempt to finish the toughest rally in the world on 2, 4 or more wheels.

We start the conversation as you do with any Dutch meeting… sitting around a table and drinking coffee.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: Okay, so Maikel, what are you racing at the Dakar next year?

M: A Husaberg 450 4 stroke

B: Husaberg? [Ben trying not to let his ignorance show too badly]

M: Yeah, they specialise in building offroad enduros, but are now owned by KTM – just like Husqvarna. KTM decided to merge the two last year, so the Husaberg brand doesn’t actually exist anymore – their bikes are just sold as Husqvarna’s now… It’s all a bit complicated.

B: Was there any reason why you chose this particular bike?

M: No not really. It’s a good bike, and I liked it. I wasn’t required to ride it or endorsed or anything. I just like the bike. [and fair enough too!]

Maxxis Dakar Team

All you die-hard motorcycle enthusiasts wondering why we’re talking about a vehicle with too many wheels, don’t close the tab just yet… take a look under the hood first.

B: So, Tim, your buggy has a Hayabusa engine in it?

T: Yeah, it’s differently mapped though, of course, because it’s a car. We currently have 240 horsepower and 180 N⋅m of torque. We are in the T3 lightweight class, which has a limit of 1400cc, so ours is 1395cc. The car in total is 750 Kgs. We do a lot of revs – it’s music to my ears. “braaaaap braaaaaaaaaap braaaaaap!” You don’t need your iPod.

Maxxis Dakar Team

T: My brother (Tom Coronel) took one of the buggies this morning, but he… er… wrecked it. The hood came off and everything. The whole highway was like “Sh*t!”

B: What a great start to the day, hahaha!

T: There’s never a dull moment with my brother, there’s always something.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: So would you say being a rally driver (or rider) make you a better or worse driver on the road.

M: worse.

T: On the road, yeah. On the road it’s pretty boring for us, so we try to push the limits.

T: Well rally drivers, of course, tend to naturally be pretty fearless and daring people. We’re always testing the limits, even on the streets.

M: With the rally you are always expecting the unexpected. On the street you don’t have that as much.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: If you are always expecting the unexpected, would you say it’s the mental strain that tires you out most?

M: Yeah, the mental strain definitely outweighs even the physical.

B: So how do you prepare for something like this mentally then, and physically too for that matter?

M: From what I see of other riders, you can ride sensibly, or you can ride harder with a higher risk. I’m a very careful rider, so I don’t use as much energy and have the stamina to last longer.

T: It’s like a second nature. That’s just what it is. And a lot of bikers jump in the buggy because they think riding the bike is getting too dangerous. They’re getting older and they want to do the rallies again, so they try the buggy but they get exhausted. Their second nature is still riding the bike, not driving the car, and after 4 or 5 days, they are out. For me, second nature is driving the buggy. Maybe even first.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: You always drove buggies, even in your youth?

T: No no no, before this I was racing for Nissan and Renault, just on the circuits. I even raced for Alfa, I became a European champion. Also the GP3 for Porsche in 2008. So I was always racing, but in 2007 I fell in love with rally racing because of my lady (Gaby Uljee). She was with another team, and she came back home and said “hey, we have to do this together”. So I agreed, and we bought a car. But after that we never drove together again. She is the mother of my two daughters.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: Would it be fair to say that  rallies are more fun? You have dirt, rocks, mud…

T: Well yeah, I came out of tarmac racing, and I fell in love with rallies. I was still racing for Nissan at the time, a GT4 with a 370, and afterwards I said “Hey, f**k racing. I like this more.”

To be honest, this is more adventurous. This has a lot more sights. It’s physical, it’s surviving, it’s adventurous. It’s not just pushing it to the limit for 40 minutes. And of course this (the buggy) is our own baby. It’s more special.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: Speaking of surviving, do you find the rally more difficult in South America than Africa?

T: If you see a comparison with the original, now it’s more extreme in the race. In africa, it was more extreme outside the race. For example, if you went to the toilet you’d have to watch which way the wind is blowing, or you’ll end up with the toilet paper inside your tent. Now it’s more civilised. That’s the difference [laughs].

T: But seriously though, within the race it’s more extreme now. Because, in Argentina, there are different levels, like you’re on sea level, then you’re at 4000 meters. And in between, the terrain is completely different. So it’s more extreme within the sport itself, and more extreme both for you and the car.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: But the competition aside, just being alone in the desert must be an incredible experience. As an adventure biker, I’m quite envious.

T: It does occur to you, that there’s a high possibility you are totally alone in the dunes. And, to be honest, you’re f***ing scared! But at the same time, it can be breath-taking. After you come out, you step back and just think… “wow”. It is the most amazing experience you can ever have.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: So what kind of advice do you have for Maikel, or for anyone who is taking on the Dakar for the first time?

T: Take it easy. Don’t be stupid. Survive.

T: Well… of course you push the limits and all that, but you also have to feel the surroundings. Anybody can just push the throttle, a true rally driver has to be very aware of the terrain, and everything around them.

M: I think it’s difficult for riders to ride at even 70% of their capacity. Most of the motocross riders, they ride not at 100%, but 150% for 20 mins.

Maxxis Dakar Team

B: Then they burn out?

M: Then either you jump off the bike, or the bike kicks you off!

B: And how much longer do you want to keep racing?

T: I don’t know…I’m enjoying it now, so as long as I am enjoying it…

M: Always!

B: Do you think about it? Or you’ll just feel when it’s ready?

T: In rally racing, experience counts. It’s not about age or how much speed you have, the speed is there so it doesn’t matter. It’s the experience that will get you over the finish line.

B: So what is your personal goal when doing such a thing as the Dakar rally?

T: And you know what the prize is? A piece of copper and a pat on the back. But nobody does the Dakar for the prize. It’s what you take away from it. Not many people can say they have finished the Dakar rally. That’s the thing about the Dakar. It’s a way of life. You spend an entire year preparing for only two weeks of driving. So many things can go wrong. The Dakar is a personal victory.

For Maikel, Tim and the Maxxis Dakar Team, spending 12 months preparing for 2 weeks of racing in the hardest rally on the planet is just, (as Tim says) a way of life. A race where just finishing the rally is its own prize. We wish them all the very best!

Maxxis Dakar Team

Tim Coronel
Driver Date of birth: 04/05/1972 in NaardenHobbies: Motorsports, skiing, surfing, wake boarding

Sponsors: Super B, TW Steels, Maxxis, GoPro, Destil, Airpress, Toolspecial, Keuken, Mascot, Allsecur, Eru, Amando, Invu, McGregor, RTL7, Eurol

Website: http://www.timcoronel.nl

Vehicle GoKobra Rally Raid BuggyMotor : Suzuki Hayabusa 4 cylinder 1,350cc

Power : 240 bhp

Chassis: Rally Raid Special

Topspeed: 180 kmh

Weight (dry) 780 kg

Length: 3250mm

Width: 2000mm

Transmission: Diff

Suspension: Reiger

Tyres: Maxxis Trepator

 

Maikel Verkade
Driver Date of birth: 08/11/1990 in UtrechtBrothers / Sisters: Sister Shirley

Residence: Leersum

Study: IVA Driebergen

Hobbies: Motocross, Snowboarding, Jetski

Website: www.facebook.com/MxVerkadeEroticaRallyTeam

Vehicle Model: Husaberg FE450 RallyMotor: Husaberg 4 cylinder 449 ccSingle cylinder, 4-stroke

Weight: 112 kg (dry)

Assistance: HT Rally Raid

Team: Maxxis Dakar Team

Experience: 18 Years of Motocross

Rally Raid: 2,5 years

Enduro: 3 years

 

Tom Coronel
Driver Date of birth: 04/05/1972 in NaardenHobbies: Ski, surf

Sponsors: Super B, TW Steels, Maxxis, GoPro, Destil, Airpress, Toolspecial, Keuken, Mascot, Allsecur, Eru, Amando, Invu, McGregor, RTL7, Eurol

Website: http://www.tomcoronel.nl/

Vehicle GoKobra Rally Raid BuggyMotor : Suzuki Hayabusa 4 cylinder 1,350cc

Power : 240 bhp

Chassis: Rally Raid Special

Topspeed: 180 kmh

Weight (dry) 780 kg

Length: 3250mm

Width: 2000mm

Transmission: Diff

Suspension: Reiger

Tyres: Maxxis Trepator

 

Robert van Pelt
Driver Location: RidderkerkBirthdate: 05-06-1993

Occupation: Student in Business

Hobbies: Enduro, Downhill Mountain Biking, Skiing

Experience: 16 years of motocross

Enduro: 3 years

Rally Raid: 2 years

Website: http://www.robertvanpelt.nl/

Vehicle Motorcycle: Yamaha YZ450FMotor: 449cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 titanium valves

Power: 68hp

Weight: 135 kg (dry)