While not unheard of, just rather unlikely, a Privateer has made the Dakar Rally Podium! So, the question is; who is he? His name is Štefan Svitko. A 33 year old off-road racer from Slovakia. His performance in the 2016 Dakar, put gave him a 2nd place finish, the first Slovakian pilot to ever have a podium finish at the Rally.
Svitko could not have imagined that he would have reached the status of a main rider when he started this adventure Seven years ago. This is due to the consistency, reliability and of course the experience he has gained in the years previous to 2016.
The fact that he is a skilled enough rider to earn 2nd place isn’t the surprising thing. In contrast to his Rivals, Svitko did this all without a Factory sponsorship. In conquering the Rally he has not only brought respect to himself and his team, but also strengthened his possibly of securing an official spot on the KTM team.
Svitko only has one reason for winning, and that’s winning.
“I’m not looking for fame or money, my only motivation’s winning. Of course, that doesn’t hurt, because my family and I still have to live. I have off-road in my heart.”
At 16, he started riding with his friends, a bit of a late start compared to most of us that have been riding since we were walking. However by the time he was 19, Svitko had become a fairly respectable rider. It was then his father gave him an ultimatum:
“If you’re good at it, you either go professional or start selling bikes.”
“I’ve worked extremely hard to get to where I am today,” says Svitko. “I also believe I’ve had to work extra hard, because I’m not blessed with talent and have had to supplement it with a lot of patience and effort.”
A well-deserved 2nd place finish will not keep him from gunning for 1st in future Rallies. The off-road world and community has now seen what Svitko can do, we all expect big things from him in the coming events!