KTM has officially confirmed that Danilo Petrucci, who will conclude his MotoGP career at Valencia this weekend, will enter the 2022 Dakar Rally.

"Danilo’s talent and his character means he is one of the few elite level guys that we believe can make this radical move from the asphalt to the dunes" said Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director.

"It’s a great story for a great guy. We want to thank him for his professionalism and all his efforts as part of the Tech3 team in our MotoGP project and now it’s time for another ‘world’!”

Petrucci, who took ten podiums and two wins with Ducati before joining KTM and Tech3 this season, is already a skilled offroad rider in enduro and motocross, but knows taking on the Dakar will be a huge challenge.

The Italian, 32, recently began his rally preparations with a trip to Dubai to ride in the sand dunes for the first time, learning under the watchful eye of KTM’s Rally Sport Manager Jordi Viladoms - a former successful Dakar competitor - plus factory KTM team-mates Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and reigning Dakar champion Kevin Benavides.

Following the MotoGP season, Petrucci's attention will be fully focused on furthering his riding and navigational experience ahead of his first attempt at the 14-day/8,000-kilometer Dakar event, being held in Saudi Arabia and starting on January 1st.

“For me it is really a dream come true to race the Dakar," Petrucci said. "It’s an event I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child when I was watching video tapes of the Dakar Rally from the '80s and '90s. Now, thanks to KTM, this dream is coming true.

"First, I would like to thank KTM for this great opportunity; I think I will be the only rider that in just over one month has competed in MotoGP and then the Dakar Rally – so it is with great pride that I go there. My main target is just to finish the race and enjoy it.

"The first approach was to have some road book training with Jordi, he competed in the race many times and finished on the podium, so he has been great in helping me learn this special art.

"I had my first taste of riding the KTM 450 Rally recently at an initial test in the Dubai dunes, where I was with KTM’s Dakar champions and I was able to learn so much from them – it was great to see them riding, and they were super nice and helpful to me.

"I hope the training for the next month will be enough; for sure it will be a tough race, but I am excited.”

Petrucci and current Tech3 MotoGP team-mate Iker Lecuona have been replaced by an all-new rookie line-up of Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez for 2022.

Lecuona will switch to WorldSBK with Honda next season.