Following the announcement at a press conference on June 4, 2009 of the French ‘ASO’ – the organizers of the South American Dakar – that for 2010 only motorcycles with a maximum displacement of 450cc will be permitted to compete, KTM, after 8 consecutive victories, has decided to immediately announce its withdrawal from the Dakar Rally.
KTM will no longer be represented in the South America rally with an official team or a KTM support team. KTM is still committed to the rally sport and will now concentrate its efforts on the World Championship and other important rallies.
The organizer’s short term change to the rules, designed to end the dominance of KTM, came without any advance warning. Today, just 6 months before the start of the race, and at a time when not only the factory team but dozens of private teams are deep in preparations for this extremely complex rally, the only option is to withdrawal from the event.
“Every sport regulation needs changes and adjustments to new developments to retain an interest in it, but this also requires the appropriate lead times. We have the entire material for the 690 Rally motorcycles for our factory team as well as that for 50 customers’ motorcycles in our storage facility ready to be constructed. Riders’ contracts have been finalized and all the team members have been engaged. The financial consequence that results from this decision is enormous. Apart from this, we are shocked at the organizers lack of loyalty, especially after the huge efforts we made following the cancellation of the Dakar in 2008 by contributing to the new edition – even during a period of extreme economic crisis,” stated KTM Motorsport Advisor and “Rally Legend” Heinz Kinigadner.
Following the decision for the deployment of 450cc motorcycles, which are unthinkably unsuitable for use in long-distance rallies, KTM can no longer economically justify a commitment to be engaged in the Dakar in the future. KTM Motorsport Director Winfried Kerschhaggl remarked, ”Rally sport serves to prove the efficiency and stability of the KTM large volume series single cylinder. There is no question that we will remain active in rally sport. Having said that, for KTM, the rally in South America is now history. We will now concentrate on the Rally World Championship and we will seek out alternatives. Maybe we will soon again see full KTM Rally engagement on African soil – back to its roots.”