After a last-minute appointment to replace the injured Marc Coma in KTM’s factory rally team for the 2013 Dakar Rally, American Kurt Caselli impressed many with his stellar rookie performance on the South American course. Taking two stage wins, Caselli will join Marc Coma and Ruben Faria on KTM’s factory-backed rally team, which will go by the “Red Bull KTM Factory Racing” name.
With Chilean rider Francesco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez also getting full-factory equipment, noticeably absent from KTM’s announcement is five-time Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres, who is leaving the KTM squad “to move on and face new challenges.”
Winning the most recent edition of The Dakar in a comfortable fashion with his support rider, Faria, finishing second, Despres’s probable move to another team is a huge shock to the sport, and could make KTM’s dominance in motorcycle rally racing questionable for the future.
“Just as we always look to the future by constantly developing our rally bikes, we must also do that same with the structure of our factory team,” said Head of KTM Motorsports Pit Beirer. “It is essential to evolve, to engage new talent and have the kind of balance and harmony essential for the smooth operation of the team in extreme circumstances like the Dakar Rally. We want to capitalize on the immense experience and talent of riders like Marc Coma, but also need to take advantage of those of ambitious up-and-coming riders like Caselli, Faria and Lopez.”
Talking of Despres’s departure, Beirer commented that “his [Despres] exemplary achievements are recognized throughout the world of motorsports and he will always be part of the history of our company. We thank him for his contribution and I join with everyone at KTM Motorsports and our entire company to wish him well for his chosen future.”
“We must invest in new talent, just as we invest in new technology and I am confident that with the new team structure we will continue to play a dominant role in rally sport,” he added.
Source: KTM; Photo: © 2012 Mitterbauer H. / KTM – All Rights Reserved