KTM pulls out of Dakar Rally

Austrian manufacturer won previous eight competitions

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 04, 2009
KTM has withdrawn from the Dakar Rally after event organizers decided to limit the competition motorcycles with a maximum displacement of 450cc.

The Austrian manufacturer, the winner of eight consecutive Dakar Rally titles, announced its decision after the Amaury Sport Organisation decided to limit professional competitors to 450cc engines for the 2010 rally. Amateur racers will still be allowed to run larger engines at reduced power for 2010 but will also be limited to an engine displacement of 450cc by 2011.

KTM released a statement accusing the ASO of changing the rules to “end the dominance of KTM”. As a result, KTM’s factory and factory-supported teams will not compete in the 2010 rally in South America. The timing of the announcement, six months before the 2010 rally, was also cited as a reason for KTM’s decision.

“Every sport regulation needs changes and adjustments to new developments to retain an interest in it, but this also require the appropriate lead times. We have the entire material for the 690 Rally motorcycles for our factory team as well as that for 50 customers’ motorcycles in our storage facility ready to be constructed in June,” says Heinz Kinigadner, KTM Motor Sport advisor. “Riders’ contracts have been finalized and all the team members have been engaged. The financial consequences that results from this decision are enormous.Marc Coma (left) and Cyril Despres finished one-two for KTM in the 2009 Dakar Rally. Quite apart from this, we are shocked by the organizer’s lack of loyalty, above all because of the huge efforts we made following the cancellation of the Dakar in 2008 by contributing to the new edition - even during a period of extreme economic crisis.”

In the 2009 Dakar Rally, KTM riders finished in eight of the top nine spots riding 690cc machines. The lone non-KTM rider in the top nine was David Fretigne who raced on a Yamaha WRF450. KTM riders represented 124 of the 218 entrants in the motorcycle class, and all but two rode bikes with engine displacements over 450cc.

KTM Motor Sport Director Winfried Kerschhaggl says the company will continue being active in other rally events.

“Rally sport serves to prove the efficiency and stability of our large volume series single cylinder. There is no question that we will remain active in rally sport,” says Kerschhaggl. “Having said that, for KTM, the rally in South America is now history. We will now fully concentrate on the Rally World Championship and we will seek out alternatives. Maybe we will soon again see full KTM Rally engagement on African soil – back to the roots.”

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