In 2006 it was KTM’s Marc Coma’s turn to take line honors in the Dakar Rally, again riding the KTM LC4 660R. With increasing numbers of professional and amateur riders switching to the KTM bikes it was clear that in the Dakar, the Austrian brand had found the perfect expression for its “Ready to Race” philosophy. In 2006, Coma’s arch-rival Cyril Despres was second, although not without incident. Despres had a big crash in the stage between Tan Tan and Zouerat and dislocated his collarbone. He toughed it out, continued in the rally and ended up with four specials wins, however a navigation choice on the penultimate stage cost him 40 minutes and he had to settle for second. With the two KTM riders again in the top slots, the battle lines were drawn. Overall, nine of the top 10 riders were onboard KTM machines in the 2006 edition of the Dakar.
What happened in the 2007 Dakar?
Cyril Despres secures second Dakar title in 2007. Fate rode again with the two KTM adversaries in 2007 and everything pointed to another victory for Marc Coma but he made a navigational error in the 13th stage then hit a tree stump and crashed hard, sustaining concussion. He was airlifted out by helicopter to the hospital in Dakar and the incident ended his bid, leaving the way open for Despres to seal the victory. This was absolute proof that when it comes to this rally, it’s never over until it’s over. It was also the first year that both riders rode the KTM 690 for the event. This proved to be the last Dakar Rally in North Africa because the 2008 edition was canceled on the eve of the race because of terrorist threats in Mauritania.