Hands off the restrictors! For the Dakar 2010, the leading KTM 690cc riders have had to install a restrictor on their air inlet. This new rule means that the race stewards must ensure that it is enforced as well as imagining the various ways ...
Hands off the restrictors!
For the Dakar 2010, the leading KTM 690cc riders have had to install a restrictor on their air inlet. This new rule means that the race stewards must ensure that it is enforced as well as imagining the various ways of tinkering with it...
A minor revolution has shaken the rally raid world. This year, the bikers involved in the Dakar must obey a new rule, one that affects the elite riders starting out behind the handlebars of KTM 690cc bikes, the model that has triumphed in the most recent editions. In order to make the playing field more level with 450cc riders, the organisers have designated a selection of leading riders who have had to fit their high-powered machines with an air inlet restrictor. Situated at the entrance to the carburettor, it reduces the engine's performance to the extent that it is equal to a 450cc bike. After studying the results of the Dakar and other events in the discipline, 14 riders have been obliged to fit their KTM bikes with this type of restrictor, including for example Cyril Despres and Marc Coma who between them have won the last four editions.
With this contentious rule adopted, the matter now at hand is to enforce it during the race. Indeed, to regain full power for their machines and maintain the edge they enjoyed in previous years, the slyest competitors might be tempted to remove the restrictor on some stages. However, the race stewards will be performing regular checks and would easily discover such cheating, which would leave the offender liable to heavy penalties. "The checks will be made randomly at the end of the special stages," explains Gianfranco Ferretti, a race steward on the rally. "I'm not saying that it is impossible to bend the rules, but I don't think it is worth it. It will take almost a quarter of an hour to remove the saddle, get access to the restrictor and remove it, and just as much time to put it back in place. I don't think a rider will be able to gain more than half an hour by removing the restrictor and they would also run the risk of being caught".
Since the imagination has no limits, the officials have also made plans to check if any sly devils have decided to file the inside of the restrictor to widen its diameter and reduce its effect. To do this, the race stewards will use a specially designed tool (see photo) to check that the size of the restrictor, all of which are numbered, has not been modified. "At one end, it is exactly the same as the original diameter and on the other it is slightly bigger. If the largest end passes through the restrictor when we strip it down, this means the rider has cheated", explains Gianfranco. The measures seem sufficiently strict to dissuade riders from trying to avoid playing by the rules. On the tracks, it is now the turn of the 450cc riders to show what they are made of.