Nicola Dutto is a professional motorbike rider. During his career he won many races, with the Italian and European Baja Championship in 2008 and 2009 as major highlights. His life completely changed in March 2010 when he broke his spinal cord in an accident during the Italian Baja.
Due to his spinal cord injury Nicola lost all feeling below his navel. Holding his balance was a huge challenge. He nearly fell over when trying to put on a t-shirt. Imagine how impossible it would be to hold your balance when sitting on a motorbike.
Still, Nicola’s passion for motorbiking remained. In November 2011, nine months after getting out of the hospital bed, Nicola decided to take part in the Baja 1000 on a Polaris Buggy, modified for his needs. After this race he announced something no-one expected: “I will take on the challenge to compete on a motorbike again”.
In 2012 Nicola created a memorable moment in the history of motor racing. He participated in the 500 km long Baja Aragon and became the first paraplegic motorbike rider! A fantastic accomplishment, but Nicola was still facing a problem while racing.
Finding the right wheelchair cushion
A fully able-bodied person will mostly stand when riding a motorbike, because the shocks of riding through rough terrain can then be absorbed by the legs. As Nicola sits the whole race the shocks cause a higher risk of developing skin issues under his buttocks. He therefore needed a cushion that offered optimal skin protection that would also work in the intense environment he was racing through.
Nicola’s search was concluded when he met Max Rogmans (CEO Vicair BV) at the REHACARE in September 2013. Max offered to design a special Vicair cushion for Nicola that he could use as a motor saddle. Together with the Vicair R&D team a custom made cushion was developed that served the required specifications and dimensions.
In 2014 Nicola started using the Vicair cushion and finished races like the Baja 500 in Mexico (440 mile) and the “Vegas to Reno”(530 miles). He continued racing on world stages like the F.I.M. Baja World (2015), Best in the Desert (2016) and Merzouga (2017). Still there is one goal left for Nicola… Riding the Dakar Rally!
Road to Dakar
In January 2019 the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally will be held in Peru. It is expected to be one of the sandiest in the history of Dakar. Nicola will participate on his motorbike during this 10 day contest. The start is on January 6th and ends 11 days – there is a rest day in between – later in Lima on the 17th.
Vicair will follow Nicola on his road to achieving his goal. We will update you on “the road to Dakar” regularly via our newsletter, Facebook and Twitter. You can follow Nicola via his Facebook and Instagram.
Baja Aragon – A succesful test on the Road to Dakar
July 20-22 2018 – Baja Aragon 35th Edition – Teruel, Spain
The Baja Aragon is a difficult cross county rally that Nicola used as a test for Dakar 2019. The rough racing conditions were an ideal testing ground for the balance of his tailor-made ‘Dakar bike’, his own physical condition and his new custom made Vicair O2 motor saddle cushion. This year’s Baja Aragon has been challenging for even the most experienced teams, but Nicola’s intense preparation and hard training paid off. The presence of ghost rider Pablo Toral alongside him was fundamental and both Pablo and Nicola were very excited about the outcome of the race.
Nicola was very happy with the performance of his new Vicair O2 version of the motor saddle cushion. During a rain storm everything got soaking wet, but – as the water was able to immediately seep through the cushion – his skin stayed dry.
Our #VicairHero finished 19th out of 37 participants. Without a 40 minute delay caused by gear problems, he would have easily finished 10th to 12th! A very promising result. Forza Dutto!
Pictures © Francesca Gasperi
More about Nicola
Nicola lives in Italy with his wife Elena. Together they manage a driving school for motorbiking were Nicola shares his experience with people who want to learn how to ride a motorbike. They serve handicapped and non-handicapped people. Nicola uses the Vicair Active O2 in his wheelchair. Read more about his experiences with the cushion.