|While registering disappointment in the cancellation of the Dakar 2008, KTM stands firmly behind the decision of the organizers not to go ahead following threats from terrorist groups to disrupt the rally.
This, the recent murder of innocent tourists and the current climate of political unrest in parts of Africa, are all factors that were taken into account, a statement from the organizers said Friday.
The Dakar organizers came to the decision at 12:00 noon on Friday after exchanges with the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs where they advised that under the current circumstances, they were no longer able to guarantee the safety of the participants. The rally, by far the most important rally even on the international calendar, was due to start in Lisbon on Saturday and finish in Dakar on January 20.
CEO Pierer underlines safety first
Stefan Pierer CEO of KTM said the decision was the only logical one to take after the French authorities were no longer able to guarantee participant safety. ‘Also when this was a very difficult decision for us, we give it our 100% support,’ Pierer said. ‘The security and safety of all KTM riders, both factory riders and privateers, and indeed all those involved in the support and organization of this top class event, must be our priority at all times,’ he added.
Setback for all KTM Riders
Heinz Kinigadner, KTM Motorsport consultant, former 250 cc Motocross World champion and Dakar veteran said the cancellation had naturally been a great setback so close to the start of the race. He said it came after months of planning and logistics and a significant financial investment not only for the official KTM factory teams but also for some 150 other KTM riders, many of them privateers, and all their support staff. ‘It is clearly a huge disappointment for everyone,’ Kinigadner said. ‘We must also bear in mind that for our top factory riders like Marc Coma and Cyril Despres, the Dakar is the highlight of the professional season and one that they have been completely focussed on for months. Not only are Coma and Despres both former winners, they are great professional rivals and were definitely the top favourites for this exceptional event in 2008.’
Kinigadner underlined that KTM’s activities are built around the three pillars of Rally, Road Racing and MX/Enduro and said the company would remain as dedicated in the future to all three types of competition as it has been until now.
The cancellation was also a bitter disappointment for the KTM Rally team boss Hans Trunkenpolz, who reinforced Pierer’s comments by saying that security and safety had to remain the most important criteria for this desert classic. ‘I am very disappointed for my team, for all of our support staff and indeed all those other people whose highlight of the year would have been to be in Dakar on January 20. But we must face the fact that under the circumstances, and with the authorities not able to guarantee the safety of our people, this was the right decision. Now we must look forward to what we hope will be a great Dakar in 2009.’