At the KTM Introduction on last week for nearly their entire line of 2004 motocross bikes, the Austrian bike manufacturer also had their radically new Paris to Dakar bike on hand for our eagle eyes to check out. To say that the bike was impressive would be an understatement, but we had more concern as to whom would ride the bike when Paris to Dakar came in January of ’04. We didn’t have to wait that long to have our question answered, as Scot Harden introduced Larry Roeseler and Paul Krause as two of the three riders (with the third rider T.B.A.). Both riders are excellent choices for the KTM bike, with both having mapped tens of thousands of miles across the desert and through the woods competing in offroad events. We were able to catch up with the legendary Paul Krause to ask him a few questions about his future endeavors.

Dirt Bike: Congratulations on receiving a factory ride with KTM and having the opportunity to ride the Paris to Dakar Rally.

Paul Krause: Thank you very much! It took lots of begging on both my and KTM’s part, but I’m really excited to be racing that event again. I rode the rally in 1998 for them, and since then I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get back there. In ’98 KTM launched their motocross team and had been concentrating on that series and needed research and development dollars for their new line. Now that they are a well-established team and they have fixed costs to go racing, they’re looking into the Paris to Dakar Rally again. And, with the advent of the new 950, they want to promote it. What a better place to promote the bike than at the rally?

DB: Exactly, and will we see you racing the 950 beforehand?

PK: We’re going to ride the Baja 1000 on the 950 down into Mexico. I really miss riding in Mexico because it’s such a neat place to ride.

DB: What have you been up to lately?

PK: Well, I’ve been riding National Hare and Hounds, as well as local district 37 races. And believe it or not, I’ve been riding at Lucerne Valley about every other week. People think I’m crazy because I ride around there because the track is beat up so badly, but I like riding there. I also ride in Barstow quite a bit.

DB: Can you tell us the speeds you reach when you’re racing in the desert?

PK: Typically the average speed at a desert race averages about 30-50 m.p.h. At a B.I.T.D. race I’ll average around 55-60 m.p.h. or maybe a little bit higher.

DB: You’ve got to be a speed junkie! What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone?

PK: I’ve been clocked with a radar gun down in Mexico going 117, but the conditions were almost perfect. The tires had really good traction, it wasn’t windy, it was just perfect to go fast. Usually though I’ll clock in around 108 or 109, like I said it depends on a couple of different variables. It’s weird when you’re going that fast because it feels like you’re almost getting lift on the bike and it wants to come off the ground. At Paris to Dakar there is a lot of deep sand in Africa, but on a hard packed road I’ll probably hit 120 m.p.h.

DB: Have you been checked out by a doctor lately? Just kidding, but that’s crazy you go that fast across uncharted trails. Are you excited that the format has changed slightly in that the rally will also be kind of like a Motocross Des Nations in a way? Of course you’re riding for yourself, but it’s also a team effort.

PK: I think it’s going to be awesome. Of course the race is individual, but it’s great that it’s also going to be a unified effort. You have to worry about your teammates and help them in any way so the team does better. Any time you’re part of a U.S. team it makes it all that more special.

DB: How have you been training for the Paris to Dakar Rally?

PK: Well, I’ve just been riding and riding to put miles on the bike, but my body is pretty much ready. The big thing is to make sure the bike can do it. If you think about it, the rally is between 6,000 and 7,000 miles. When I’m racing a Hare and Hound race, they’re usually about 100 miles long. Multiply that by around seven or eight races a year, and that’s less than 1,000 miles for the entire year. At Paris to Dakar, your bike is going through eight years of National Hare and Hound races in only one event! It’s crazy when you think about it that way, and over those thousands of miles some piece on your bike could break.

DB: How did you do at the rally in ’98?

PK: I finished 14th overall, but I was more concerned with just finishing! That was the big goal, and I could have done a lot better but I had some problems in the beginning stages. The best I finished in a stage was 3rd, so I was really happy to do that.

DB: Well good luck to you, Paul. We’ll be cheering for you!

PK: I hope so! Thank you very much.


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