KTM really tried to come in under the radar with their Baja 690. The machine is based around the SuperMoto 690, which features a fuel-injected 653cc, 65 horsepower new generation LC4 engine. But sticking reigning National Hare and Hound Champion David Pearson, Dakar veterans Chris Blais and Cyril Depres on a unique machine in an event that has been dominated by the Honda’s Red Machine for an eternity was a mere pipe dream. Even the neophyte schmendrik was astounded by the gridwork on the trellis-framed machine, and when you plug in a gaggle of engineers, factory honchos, coordinated pit support and the volume of works parts found on the unique purpose-built machine, it was like coaxing a hyena to pile of refuse.
People flocked to the little man on the Baja totem pole hoping that someone, or something, could toss a nail into the Honda dream team’s dominance. KTM’s original goal was to take a machine built for the Dakar Rally, mold it into a Baja racer, sneak into the pits and go racing with little stress. It was really more like a test, a shakedown, than a real go-for-it win-at-all costs venture. The engine is a much-modified new generation LC4 powerplant, although it’s normally aspirated through a Keihin FCR carburetor. The fuel tank is located in the subframe and flows throughout the rearward side of the machine. This keeps the weight centralized and improves handling. The airbox rests directly above the carburetor and the chrome moly trellis frame focuses on rigidity for the beefy machine.