Despite the absence of an official KTM presence at the 2010 Dakar Rally following recent rule ambiguities, the KTM brand itself will certainly still be present.
In fact, over half of the field will be putting their trust in perfectly engineered, 'Ready to Race' bikes from KTM.
If you were expecting a completely KTM-free 2010 Dakar Rally, which sets off from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires on 01 January 2010, then you're sadly mistaken. For the upcoming race, the army of KTM private riders, with support provided - as usual - by the official KTM service truck will now also include virtually all the frontrunners, including Marc Coma and Cyril Despres who will be riding the single cylinder LC4 fitted with a performance-limiting air restrictor. This clearly demonstrates the riders' unfailing confidence in KTM's rally credentials whilst simultaneously revealing their scepticism of the 450 cc engines.
Stefan Pierer, Managing Director of KTM Sportmotorcycle AG, had the following to say about the continuing presence of the large-capacity KTM single cylinders:
"KTM has shaped the world of rally sport in a way that no other company even comes close. The design and construction of the KTM 690 Rally perfectly embraces our 'Ready to Race' philosophy. The fact that so many lead riders and private riders alike continue to put their trust in KTM and the service we provide only serves to confirm our beliefs".
Leading the throng of private KTM riders are previous year winners Marc Coma and Cyril Despres. Despres, the outstanding French talent who has only recently successfully completed an endurance test lasting several hours in his adopted homeland of Andorra, certainly had something to say about the upcoming Dakar Rally:
"They might be able to limit the air intake of our KTM 690 rally engines with performance-limiting restrictors, but they cannot put a limit on our experience, our professionalism or our drive. We want to win!"
The Dakar Rally 2010 starts in Buenos Aires on New Year's day. 83 of the 161 motorcycle riders registered to take part in the rally will be riding KTMs. KTM is also represented in the quad category with Italian female rider Camelia Liparoti, for instance, riding a specially tuned KTM rally quad.
Between the start and finish of the rally, which concludes back in Buenos Aires on 16 January 2010, riders have to travel almost 9,000 kilometres, complete 14 stages and overcome the legendary Atacama desert in northern Chile.