Dakar: Gauloises KTM preview

While the Gauloises KTM team might be starting out from Lisbon on the 31st December with a number of new elements, their ambition remains resolutely the same -- to take the number one spot 16 days later at the famous Lac Rose in Senegal. New ...

While the Gauloises KTM team might be starting out from Lisbon on the 31st December with a number of new elements, their ambition remains resolutely the same -- to take the number one spot 16 days later at the famous Lac Rose in Senegal.

New Riders
After the tragic events of Dakar 2005 the Gauloises KTM team are back for 2006 with last year's winner, Frenchman Cyril Despres and three new team mates.

Isidre Esteve
The experienced Spanish rider will be starting his ninth Dakar more motivated than ever, determined to prove that switching to the French team was the right choice. With equal status to team mate Despres, Isidre will also benefit from his own water carrier...

David Casteu
After having proved his worth riding in Gauloises colours for much of 2005, David was the logical choice as 'water carrier' for Isidre. With a reputation as a fast but solid finisher and an excellent mechanic, David will be invaluable support to his Spanish team mate.

Michel Gau
Cyril's team mate when they first entered the Dakar in 2000 as privateer, Michel didn't take much persuading when his friend of longstanding asked him to be his water carrier for the 2006 season. Reputed for his technical riding ability and level-headedness, Michel starts with no other ambition except that of putting a Gauloises KTM on the top of the podium.

New Team Manager
Turning the four riders and their back up in a closely knit team in a remarkably short space of time, team manager Eric Bernard could well turn out to be Team Gauloises KTM's secret weapon. Until recently a top-level competitor in the World Motorcycle Enduro championship and a Dakar entrant in both the bike and car class Eric's no nonsense approach and clear direction has already paid dividends.

New Bike
Unlike their principal rivals, Team Gauloises KTM have opted to run what is amounts to a brand new bike. Along it looks remarkably similar to last years factory machines it is in fact the tried and trusted LC4 engine with a brand new chassis wrapped around it. Designed to be lighter, better handling and more manoeuvrable than its predecessor it has already been extensively tested on the Rallye d'Orient and the Dubai Desert Challenge.

Same Ambitions
Despite all these changes Team Gauloises KTM's goal remains the same as always -- put a blue bike on the top of the Dakar podium. With two leading riders, two dedicated water carriers, a chassis totally in phase with the new regulations, and a highly respected team manager to drive them along they start the 2006 Dakar with all the elements necessary to achieve their ambition.

-gauloises-

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Series DAKAR