KTM quits Dakar Rally

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KTM_Quits_Dakar.jpgThis morning the Dakar Rally announced it would limit all motorcycles to 450cc. KTM races 654cc motorcycles. So it’s quitting. Full details below.

“Rally Dakar” – KTM withdraws!
The limiting of motorcycles with a displacement of 450 cc forces the long term dominator of the Dakar Rally to withdraw.

Following the announcement at a press conference on June 4, 2009 of the
French “ASO” – the organisers of the “South American Dakar” that from
2010, only motorcycles with a maximum displacement of 450 cc will be
permitted to compete, KTM, after eight consecutive victories, has
decided to immediately accept the consequences and announces its
withdrawal from the “Dakar”.

The company will no longer be represented at the rally in
South America either with an official factory team or a KTM-supported
team. At the same time, KTM underlines that the company remains
committed to rally sport and will now concentrate its efforts on the
world championship and other important rallies.

The organiser’s short term change to the rules, designed to
end the dominance of KTM, and which comes without any advance warning,
hits the KTM factory hard. Today, just six months before the start -
and at a time when not only the factory team but also dozens of private
teams are deep in preparations for this extremely complex rally, the
immediate withdrawal of the worldwide market leader of offroad sports
motorcycle is the only possible consequence.

“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,”
said KTM Motor Sport Advisor and “Rally Legend” Heinz Kinigadner in a
first statement.

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 Motor Sport Director Winfried
Kerschhaggl: “Rally sport serves to prove the efficiency and stability
of our 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 fully 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 the roots!”

With its commitment to rally sports, KTM naturally takes the
obligations to its long term worldwide customers seriously because it
is they who have decided to put their trust in the products and in the
unique service of the Austrian company for rally sport by choosing KTM


  • jconli1

    wow… just… wow.

    so now what? CRFs? Those Aprilia twins? G450Xs? They all seem terribly ill-suited for long distance rally.

  • scott

    Paris to Dakar no longer Paris to Dakar.
    not Dakar rally.

  • aoelus

    What, the Yamaha was not too far in arrears and I think they were a 450. Looks like the mighty Nippon Empire strikes again. And all the privateers that make up the backbone of the moto class can just go stuff it. All their hard earned cast invested in a bike without a race. that really sucks.

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    “The organiser’s short term change to the rules, designed to end the dominance of KTM, and which comes without any advance warning, hits the KTM factory hard.” Well, they achieved it. I am all for changing rules and regulations to encourage better competition, give some lead time. With KTM out, there is going to be very little interest in the Dakar.

  • Tim

    Honda run’s CRF450X bikes for the Baja 1000. If they are not suited, someone will figure out how to make them suited for this race real quick.

  • v

    they are really doing the best they can to destroy the paris dakar rally aren’t they?
    first the terrorist attacks(they where shooting with kalashnikov’s at the cars in the 70′s,still they somehow managed to continue) now this..

  • Rich

    Below is a quote straight from Ian Drysdale (of Drysdale V* fame) who was on a team in this years rally. He has said that the rules allow the 450s to change engines every night.

    Ian wrote, “It will make it VERY hard for the privateer who works on his (or her) own bike, it is VERY unlikely that a 450 would do the whole event on one engine. One guy that runs 450′s in the Australian Safari ( notice I haven’t mentioned the brand ) has found that they need a new piston every 2nd night to be reliable. One guy I got to know in the ’09 Dakar blew up one motor in his 450 KTM, begged / borrowed another motor and it lasted another 4 days. He then went into a big town we were camped near, bought a brand new bike and pulled the motor out of it !
    He made it to the finish on this 3rd motor.”


  • http://setthemfree.tumblr.com Sasha Pave

    That’s a shame. This kind of decision should have been made at least 24 months beforehand, there’s no reason to change it so quickly! Why this year? And why only 6 months prior?

    The Dakar will go on, and true there will be more colors present, but there’s a reason big-bore singles do well in this racing format. And I get the feeling that KTM builds their big-bores to a higher degree of durability than the 450s (which need to remain competitive with every other 450 racing engine out there).

  • Quincy Urkel

    That is appalling. There is nothing i can add that hasn’t been stated above. I feel incredibly sorry for those that have already invested finance’s, time and hope’s all which can’t be recouped. I’ve been a fan of the rally for over a decade, this kind of corporate espionage has driven me away, I don’t feel I’ll watch the race anymore.

  • KC MotoGP

    The ASO have always succeeded in destroying the efforts of factories to make a bike or car succesfull.
    They’re french and think they can get away with it.
    Look at the sudden change of the regulations in Le Mans during the last decade, look at the Tour de France.
    They are always doing things very suddenly without prior notice.
    This will cost them a lot of racers who will surely quit riding the event.
    Maybe Yamaha France had something to do with it…. to promote their 450WR’s.

  • aoelus

    From the Dakar website:
    A restrictor in 2010 for the amateurs over 450cc
    In order to reach this objective of levelness between competitors that will open the number of potential victory contenders, a transition measure has been taken for the 2010 Dakar. Aware of the important number of competitors already having bikes of over 450cc, the organisers have decided to accept them for this edition with the obligation to set up a restrictor reducing the power of the engine. This restrictor, conceived to limit the performance to the level of the 450cc, will be provided by the rally organisation.

    They are also going to penalize turbo diesels in the car class with a larger restrictor allowed for non turbo gas cars.. The “logic” for the bikes is 40% of the entries are 450cc and they have little chance against the 650s. So if 40% of the entries change to 250cc that will be the new standard?

  • Bill

    KTM is right to pull out. If the rally was 500 miles, not 6,000, the smaller bikes might be the way to go. KTM dominated because of the team they assembled. Not because of the size of the engines.
    What about the cars? Is the Corvette engine in Robby Gordon’s Hummer going to be restricted too?

    • aoelus

      Not if it’s normally aspirated in which case it will get a power boost. But will there be a Hummer in the 2010 Dakar as GM is down for the count and the Hummer is off to China. Can’t see GM funding a car they don’t sell even if they had the money. Too bad. He was closing in on a win after 3rd last year. there was also an American riding a KTM last year Jonah Street,that was highly placed and might have podiumed but for the reappearance of an old wrist injury. That and being double crossed by the race organizers, told he could change his engine then penalized for doing it. And with Chris Blaise now paralyzed below the waist, what looked like hopes for an American Moto winner are gone. Bummer

  • http://www.sideburnmagazine.com Ben Part

    ASO = ( * )

  • Adrian

    The French screw everything up , the FIA is working its hardest to destroy the FI snoozefest too.

    It will be plug-in electric cars at the 24 Heures du Man in 2011 ,with power only to be supplied by French nuclear plants.

  • shaun

    It’s reminding me of Subaru pulling out of WRC. All the iconic guys are leaving… it’s disheartening.

  • matt

    There goes any further development of the +600cc bikes, bad news in my opinion.
    I hate the idea that because one manufacturer is doing very well that they should be penalized, lowering the bar so that the others yamaha, honda etc can now be competitive!! outrageously backward thinking from the ASO. Others need to lift their game.
    I feel for the privateers how have been hit very hard 2 out of 3 yrs, big spends and no rally. I’m boycotting the dakar this yr

  • http://none adrian

    i side with matt claiming that lowering the bar versus the losers lifting their game is outrageous.
    changing the engine each night seems like gross misuse of the spirit of an long distance race. its now a set of little races strung together. maybe some parts are common from race to race. maybe the number plate. how about a pass-the-baton race. rally enduro. clearly, enduro is derived from the word endurance implying durability and usage beyond a day. put in those suzuki 1000 hp hill climbers blow the engine, get a new one. i love politics.

  • Dspranger

    Maybe someone other than the Japanese has been urging the French to change the rules. My guess is that someone (maybe BMW) has been working on a 450 for some time, to release at this year’s S.A. Dakar? In the meantime, the Honda/Yamaha/Kawasaki skunk works has a little 450 test mule that has been running a track in Japan non-stop, since the end of last year’s event. Huuummmm. Possible?