|With a positive eye on the mighty Dakar Rally, the first event of the 2008 rally season, KTM and its factory riders are preparing to tackle the challenge of retaining their stranglehold on the events that make up the entire rally season.
‘The competition is getting tougher and our rivals are hungrier than ever and want a piece of the action, so it is going to be a tough season,’ said KTM’s rally boss Hans Trunkenpolz. ‘Nevertheless we have a great line-up of riders including the most successful and the most experienced, so we will be doing everything we can to retain the edge in 2008. I believe we are gong into the rally season with the most KTM complete KTM team ever.’
Trunkenpolz emphasised that all KTM factory riders receive the same level of support and encouragement and he underlined that he believed all were capable of top ten finishes. ‘Of course with Marc (Coma) and Cyril (Despres) we have two riders who are among the most successful and experienced in both riding and navigating. They will be natural rivals and it will probably be a matter of tactics that decides which one of them comes out on top,’ Trunkenpolz added.
If rally is the essence of adventure and endurance for both man and machine, the Dakar is the one that sorts the men from the boys. The classic event begins in Lisbon, Portugal on January 5 in Lisbon and finishes 15 days later in Saint-Louis, Dakar after a gruelling 9273 km. KTM has firmly established the brand and its factory riders as the dominant force in the Dakar over the past seven years, a reputation that they will work hard to preserve in 2008. Nevertheless, Hans Trunkenpolz predicts that the 800km through Morocco will be one of the most challenging stretches and that the Dakar Rally in 2008 will be extremely hard.
Every rally on the international calendar, but particularly the Dakar, demands the best from rider and motorcycle. It is about winning on a great bike and defeating the elements as well as the opposition. KTM views it as the ultimate test for their machines because they are pitted against all that nature can throw at them by way of extreme climatic conditions and challenging terrain.
KTM factory riders will again be putting the KTM 690 Rally machine through its paces in what goes beyond the sport and into the realm of a unique living laboratory. The lessons learnt in the desert and over other tough terrain provide the company with vital data for constant.
KTM will field six top riders for the 2008 season in four teams. But behind the riders and the team structure is the entire network of expertise, dedication and passion for orange success that comes out of the Mattighofen factory of the world leader in sports motorcycles. KTM is and will always be ‘Ready to Race’ technological improvement and development. The result is a direct benefit to the passionate hobby rider as well as the sport’s professionals.