KTM’S RALLY TEAM PRESENTED AT EICMA; DESPRES RENEWS CONTRACT
Specialist motorcycle media got a first glimpse of the KTM model year 2012 range at EICMA Motorcycle Fair in Milan, Italy on Tuesday but the Austrian manufacturer also used the fair to showcase its 2012 Rally Teams ahead of the 2012 Dakar Rally where KTM will be going for its eleventh consecutive win.
Also announced at the presentation was that KTM factory rally rider Cyril Despres had renewed his contract for another two years.
In January 2012 KTM will be chasing its eleventh consecutive Dakar Rally win and the rider lineup was introduced by motorcycle media personality Toby Moody and Austrian MX legend and ex Dakar contestant Heinz Kinigadner. Reigning Dakar champion Marc Coma of Spain heads the AMV Red Bull Team with support from fellow Spaniard Juan Pedrero. Despres will lead the Red Bull Team’s charge for the title together with his ‘water carrier’ Ruben Faria of Portugal. Both Coma and Despres have three Dakar titles to their names and the competition between them has become legend in the sport.
All four KTM factory riders will compete on the further developed 450 cc factory rally bike, which made its successful debut in the Dakar Rally in January 2011. Regulations were changed in 2010 to introduce the smaller cubic capacity bike in the hope of breaking KTM’s stranglehold on the title, but the machines from Austria and their two key riders once again rose to the occasion and crossed the line 1-2 when the bikes returned to the finish in Buenos Aires. The Dakar Rally, since 2009 held in South America is universally recognized as the world’s toughest. It involves 17 days of hard riding in immensely challenging geographic conditions for both man and machine.
Despres renews contract for another two years
EICMA and the team presentation was also the occasion for French-born rider Cyril Despres to renew his contract with KTM, sealing the deal on the EICMA stage together with Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports. Cyril scored his first outright victory in the Dakar in January 2005 on a factory KTM, a day, he says “…that will remain engraved in my memory forever”. He took his second Dakar victory in 2007 and won again in 2010. He also has an impressive history in other world class rallies associated with the World Rally Championship and won the notorious Red Bull Hare Scramble at the Erzberg Rodeo in 2002 and 2003. Marc Coma also renewed his contract with KTM in the late summer and Despres’s signature again secures the world’s two best riders for KTM.
Aubert to make his Dakar Debut
KTM’s Enduro Factory Team rider Johnny Aubert of France will also make his Dakar debut in January 2012 riding a series model KTM 450 Rally bike and supported by KTM’s Service Package as offered to privateer riders. More than half of the competing bikes in the Dakar Rally are KTMs. Aubert is considered one of the best riders in the Enduro World Championships. He is a double world champion and joined the KTM Factory Team in 2010. Johnny was unable to ride in the second half of the 2011 season following injuries at the GP of Greece but is now fully recovered and in training for the Dakar challenge.
Another prominent KTM rider making his Dakar debut in 2012 is New Zealander Chris Birch, three-times winner of the Roof of Africa and winner of the 2010 edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs. Birch, who specializes in Extreme Enduro events, was also second in the inaugural Red Bull Sea to Sky in Turkey in 2011. He is based in South Africa and has won both the New Zealand and South African National Enduro titles.