Thursday, the organizers (ASO) of the Dakar Rally announced that the event will only allow 450cc motorcycls in the professional class. Taking the news a bit hard, KTM has now claimed that the new class regulations are specifically “designed to end the dominance of KTM” in the historic and difficult race.
Unable to field and prep 450cc rally bikes, the Austrian company has announced that it will cut the race completely out of its schedule and budget, leaving nearly 50 riders SOL for bikes and/or sponsorships.
According to KTM, ASO’s short term change to the rules, comes without any advance warning, and thus leaves KTM with the only option of withdrawing from the Rally since it cannot change its race preparation in time to meet the new requirements.
Talking about the huge burden that such short notice leaves the Austrian manufacturer, KTM Motor Sport Advisor Heinz Kinigadner said this in a written statement:
“Every sport regulation needs changes and adjustments to new developments to retain an interest in it, but this also require 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 in June. Riders’ contracts have been finalised and all the team members have been engaged. The financial consequences that results from this decision are enormous. Quite apart from this, we are shocked by the organiser’s lack of loyalty, above all because of 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.”
KTM seems determined to continue its rally racing effort, and has not left out the possibility of entering back into the Dakar, when it is back to its home route in Africa.