Etienne Lavigne, the Dakar race director has described the event as existing "above all because of a longing for discovery and a capacity to confront the unknown". In the months and weeks leading up to the 18-day race through a major slice of the South American continent, the frisson of excitement has become a rush of adrenalin as the KTM team moves into the final countdown for the major rally event of the season.
The 2009 Dakar: A new eraThe last minute cancellation on the eve of the 2008 Dakar left teams and organizers bitterly disappointed. While everyone admitted the cancellation was necessary as security could no longer be guaranteed in some of the countries of Africa, it also meant that a year of dedicated preparation had all been for nothing. Or was it? Now those same participants, including the KTM factory team are facing the inaugural 2009 Dakar in South America with renewed passion and determination.
The Olympic Games of rally sport"This is the real "Olympic Games "of rally sport and because the 2009 Dakar will be at a completely different location it will surely generate a lot of global interest," said KTM team manager Alex Doringer. "It is always one of the biggest highlights every year for the KTM factory. From the point of view of the company, we don't just take care of the factory team. There are 235 competitors starting in the bikes category and more than 55% will be riding KTM machines."
Top class KTM factory teamOnboard the single cylinder, four-stroke KTM 690 Rally motorcycle for the KTM Factory Team will be previous Dakar winners Cyril Despres of France (Red Bull KTM) and Spaniard Marc Coma (Repsol KTM) who are not only each other's toughest rivals but also go into the race as the favourites. They are joined by Jordi Viladoms of Spain (Repsol KTM) and Frenchman Alain Duclos (Kaestle KTM).
"Even though a lot of things will change it is reasonable to expect that Marc will continue to be my principle rival," Despres said during preparation. "Wherever we race in the world it is usually between me and him and I can't see that being any different. That's fine by me. We always fight clean and have tremendous respect for each other."
Coma too is quietly confident: "We have a new Dakar in 2009 and this also means new deserts. But I am confident that it will also be great and that it will have the same kind of Dakar spirit. That means it will be hard and there will be risks to take."