And it all started in my grandparent’s kitchen…. The complete story of a dream

I still can’t beleive it….5° in the World Championship 2011 and best italian!!!! Everything started in march, in my race calendar there was only the Italian Rally Championship but i was dreaming of something more. Unfortunately my family isn’t very rich economically but certainly we are extremely rich of passion! It was since i was 16yrs old that i was dreaming about racing in the desert and on the dunes but as you know motorsports are very expensive. In these 7 years i never gave up and even if everyone in Italy was telling me to do so. They would tell me all the time i was too young for the desert, that being an ex motocross rider it wouldn’t of worked out and that anyway before the desert i would have had to get some experience by free riding on the dunes and that obviously having no money i would never of got the chance.

I don’t know how many of you will read this long post but i want to share my strange and crazy story!

In 2005 i got to know a pretty strange guy in Rome called Fabio, he was a lawyer with 2 uni degrees that was running in his free time an amateur enduro website called Enduristi Anonimi (which means Anonymous Enduro Riders in Italian)in which he would post his enduro tours with friends. We met through internet and after a few talks we went out for a drink, right from the start we were speaking like two old friends and both of us had in mind many projects. My project was to try and become a pro-rally rider and get to the Dakar and his project was to leave his  well retributed job! We decided to start a friendly collaboration and i started to ask friends to make me test their bikes and we would publish the bike tests on his website giving my opinion as rider and his opinion as amateur.

Some years passed and Fabio decided to leave his job and move to the north of Italy where he started working for some magazines as journalist. After some time he called me and asked me to meet up with him because he absolutely had to speak to me and ask me a question. I really had no idea of what he was after, i went to Mantua and eating a pizza together he said to me “I took a radical decision…..I will make my own offroad magazine and was wondering if you wanted to be the official bike tester”. What could i say? obviously yes!!! It would of been an honour for me. Like most things a lot money was needed and Fabio barely had the money to publish the first number so we had absolutely no money for advertising, photographers etc. His concept of offroad magazine was to make a magazine dedicated to amateurs, targeting people that have offroad bikes but don’t care about racing but only about riding and getting an offroad knowledge. His idea was really good but the success of it without advertising and workers was very risky. Me and Fabio started making the first bike tests and reports on our own just me and him, he would mainly write and take photos and i would ride and write. We started going around in Italy speaking to companies about our project and asking for investments but people would sometimes even laugh at us :( we insisted and without money we started advertising the magazine through forums, social networks, websites and in any free way we could.

By november 2009 we published the first edition of ENDURISTA the offroad magazine for amateurs! No one was even considering the chance of us being sold but fortunately there was a great initial boom and eventhough initially there was a lot to improve people appreciated a lot our effort because they could feel that differently from the other magazines this had true passion and no political interest in its articles. From then on things went always better and now ENDURISTA is one of the most sold offroad magazine in Italy.

Why did i tell you this story?

Because with time working as official tester in the magazine helped me get some popularity, improve my writing and get opportunities. I started asking Fabio if i could try and make a rally report, he was a little worried because he didn’t want racing in his magazine and no results or anything so i proposed him to let me write all about the experience of a rally that from my point of view has nothing to do with competition but with an own personal challenge. In the end he said yes and thanks to the organizer of the Rally of Albania which sponsored my presence at his rally i made my first rally report for the magazine.

Where am i getting to?

This year as i said i had in program only the national championships but in my head i wanted to step up, especially after 2008 when i managed to get the class win in the first race of the World Championship which was in Italy. No one seemed to believe in me, but i believed in myself and this was the most important thing. I asked for help to many italian companies, teams etc but i would only get doors closed in my face. At times i was really frustrated and my feelings hurt but i just knew that i would of found the way to race in the world championship. Thanks to the media space i had on the magazine i started contacting the rally organizers asking them if i could get a media accreditation to make an article on their rally with one only big clause…..i had to race the rally and not just look at it in order to give readers a real inside view and to also race without having money!

Everything looked good when i got the accreditation at round 1 of the FIM World Cross Country Rallies Championship but there was still a lot to do and to prepare! I sent emails to factory Husaberg presenting them my projects and fortunately they decided to sponsor me giving me technical support, this was a really big acheivment for me and a great honour!!!

Ok i had the bike but needed all the rest! Through facebook i contacted my friend Garry Connell and told him about wanting to race the championship but that i didn’t quite know how i would of had to prepare my bike (he had raced the Dakar with the Husaberg in 2009) and he offered himself to help me and sent me a Force bashplate. I also contacted Safari Tanks and incredibly without even knowing me they believed in the project and sponsored me by sending the fuel tanks. Also the rally rider Alberto Dottori gave me a front fairing, and little by little i managed to find people willing to help me out.

Slightly small problem….

Everything arrived 48 hours before the shipment of the bike for Abu Dhabi….It was almost an impossible challenge and with no money to pay a mechanic we had only one solution… it ourselves! we got bike and parts in my grandparents kitchen, moved table and stuff and started me, my father and my grandparents working non stop for almost 48 hours….just crazy! We managed to almost finish the bike and shipped it, the remaining we would of done there.

It was time to go and me and my father got on the airplane to Abu Dhabi with the luggage full of spare parts and since the weight was over the limit i had to take out my riding gear and travel with my riding gear on….not the most comfortable way of flying. We got to Abu Dhabi late at night and rented a car and having a very restricted budget we slept in the Toyota Yaris in order to not spend for an hotel room that had been booked for us as journalists from the day after. This was my first ever time on the dunes, i had never seen one not even by foot! I was so tense, all that work and i was scared i would of got stuck on the first dune. Our story quickly attracted peoples attention and i got an interview on the newspaper Sport 360.

I won’t tell you all the story on how the race went but i might do it in future, anyways things went well and when i got back home i was in love with the desert. So in love that i started harassing everyone to go to the Tunisia Rally which was the second round of the championship. NPO was really nice to me and like the Desert Challenge organizers they gave me an accreditation as journalist. Same happened also for the Sardinia Rally Race where also Garry Connell came to race with me. But everything was always a question mark till some days before and it was pretty tough organizing everything! Just the Pharaons Rally organizers (Italians) didn’t help me out eventhough i was the best italian in the championship.

Anyways now the Pharaons has just finished and thanks to the good results in the other rallies i managed to finish 5th and be the best italian in the FIM World Cross Country Rallies Championship 2011!!!!!! For me its unbelievable!!!! I raced all the season as a privateer with my father as a mechanic and with a standard Husaberg FE 450cc.

I hope you wont mind but i want to thank all the people that have helped me starting from Husaberg, the organizers of Rally of Tunisia, Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Sardinia Rally Race but also the companies that gave me support such as Endurista, Safari Tanks, Ufo Plast, Alpinestars, Onboard Graphics, Technomousse, Bardahl, Garry Connell.

Sorry but the biggest thank you is for my Family that eventhough they don’t have the chance to support me economically they support me in all the rest and without them this would not of been possible :) Thank you!

Final Standings:

1. Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha)

2. Jakub Przygonski (KTM)

3. Marc Coma (KTM)

4. Jacek Czachor (KTM)

5. Manuel Lucchese (Husaberg)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This year  i entered the 2012 Dakar, have no money and no sponsors at the moment and just used up all my savings for the first 2 payments. By the end of the month i have to pay the remaining €5.700 and just hope i will manage to make things work out as for the championship. My advice for everyone is to never give up!!!!!! I’m 23 years old and people say that i am young but it took me 7 long years to make 1 of my dreams come true and it felt like ages!!!!!

If you liked this story please SHARE it, i want things to change in the Rally world and i want to see more opportunities for young riders like me. There are a lot of talented guys that just don’t get the opportunities because everything is too expensive. I want my experience to be a stimulation for people not to ever give up!

About the Author
Born on the 20/07/1988 in Italy i started racing motocross at the age of 6yrs and for many years competed in the italian motocross and supercross championship. In 2004 just for fun i tried racing in Enduro and Rallies and incredibly the same year i turned pro! Now at the age of 23 i am racing for Husaberg in the world rallies championship and heading to the Dakar in 2012. Together with my sport career i also write as journalist/bike tester for an Enduro Magazine and also study business and management at college.
  1. Antal Reply

    A very insperational story Manuel!!

    If anyone can make it to Dakar, Im sure you can!

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