KTM’s Coma and Despres Race 2010 Dakar

December 14, 2009
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Cyril Despres - 2009 Dakar Rally Stage 10
Frenchman Cyril Despres will not miss the upcoming Dakar Rally and will receive support from KTM, in spite of the acrimony between the team orange and rally organizers.

Racing fans worried about KTM withdrawing its support at the Dakar Rally need not fear, as the Orange Crush will continue to dominate the entry roster. Headlining the list of “private riders” competing in the 2010 rally are KTM Dakar studs Marc Coma and Cyril Despres. Former champions, Coma and Despres will compete aboard KTM’s LC4 with air restrictors limiting engine performance due to new 2010 rally rules.

The KTM/Dakar troubles began last year, when ASO, the organizers of the now South American-based rally, announced a limitation of 450cc for the 2010 event. KTM then promised it would withdraw factory support of the rally, as the rule change clearly seeks to reduce the Austrian firm’s dominance of the series with its 690cc LC4. KTM softened its stance and announced official rider support with a service truck, after ASO relented, somewhat, by not enforcing the cc restrictions for amateurs and allowing the 690 with air restrictors lowering the power to parity with the 450s. ASO promises the 450cc cap with be enforced for the 2012 rally.

Cyril Despres - 2009 Dakar Rally Stage 15Marc Coma - 2009 Dakar Rally Stage 15
KTM refuses to ‘officially’ support the 2010 Dakar Rally after organizers announced a planned
450cc displacement restriction. However, the Austrian marque will still have riders Cyril Despres
(left) and Marc Coma (right) campaigning the South American race.

In spite of the tinkering to his dominating machinery and new “private KTM rider” status, Frenchman Despres is ready for a successful 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!”

Of course, Coma and Despres will bear little resemblance to a true privateer effort. While KTM specifically states in its most recent press release “the absence of an official KTM presence at the 2010 Dakar Rally”, it would seem the two front-runners are factory status in everything but name only – a release regarding the manufacturer’s service truck referring to the two as “factory supported”.

KTM Truck
The truck guys will be packed up and ready to go when the 2010 Dakar Rally starts on New Year’s Day in Argentina.

Whatever the semantics, KTM wants to make sure its bikes continue to lead the way at Dakar for 2010:

“KTM has shaped the world of rally sport in a way that no other company even comes close,” said KTM’s Stefan Pierer. “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”.

The 2010 Dakar Rally will kick off on New Year’s Day in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This year’s route stretches 5600 miles through 15 stages. A full 83 of the slated 161 riders will compete aboard KTM machinery.

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