January 2016 will mark the beginning of a new Dakar era. With 14 consecutive wins to its name, the Red Bull KTM Factory team remains excited for the future of rally. Last year’s victor and KTM team stalwart THE KTM TEAM Marc Coma (five times winner) retired from competition earlier this year, opening the door for a new winner following the last 10 Dakar rallies that have been won by Coma and former teammate, Cyril Despres. With both the former KTM-aces retiring from motorcycle rally racing, this sees the possibility for a new Dakar star to emerge and KTM has once again invested in a rider line-up with an array of experience, a huge depth of talent, which, comprised with its masses of team experience, is motivated to make it to the final stage in first position.
Since the company formed in 1953 as an offroad manufacturer, right through to the new-era of KTM where Stefan Pierer took control in 1991 and developed the brand into what it is today, KTM continues to rest on its offroad laurels and READY TO RACE mantra. The Austrian firm holds rally racing at the very heart of the company and continues to be motivated by Dakar success.
KTM began racing the Dakar rally in the 1990’s perhaps thanks to Austrian World Motocross Champion and rally racer Heinz Kinigadner, who contested the early races and played a pivotal role in pushing KTM to be serious rally contenders. Although it was years before KTM took its first victory in 2001, the team has since continued with success after success. With a wealth of experience within the team and KTM’s R&D department, which is continuously and tirelessly working on the rally machine development, KTM once again is striving for victory, but it’s clear that any Dakar win is no mean feat as one of the toughest races in the world.
It’s also important to note that KTM has also enabled many, many other racers to contest the rally with its customer support programme, and extensive sponsoring programme outside of the factory squad over many years.
The 2016 Dakar Rally will once again be one of the toughest battles of man and machine on the planet, where anything and everything can happen. Not only will the terrain, altitude, navigation and physical demands be extremely challenging, the competition will be tough too. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team is excited to see Austria’s very own Cross-Country Rallies World Champion, Matthias Walkner, attempt his second Dakar with a whole load more experience under his belt, alongside 2014 runner-up Jordi Viladoms from Spain, last year’s surprise podium finisher on his Dakar debut, Toby Price, top 10 Dakar finisher Laia Sanz, who is fresh off the back of another Enduro World title, and new-to-rally five time Enduro World Champion, Antoine Meo. Unfortunately Dakar stage winner Sam Sunderland is not sufficiently fit enough to race the 2016 Dakar due to injury.
KTM has been providing the opportunity for riders to race the Dakar for years with its customer rally programme. Not only are the bikes almost identical to the factory machines of the Red Bull KTM Factory squad that have enjoyed 14 consecutive Dakar victories, KTM also offers a comprehensive service and support package to fully facilitate riders that wish to compete in the Dakar rally. While the machine and service packages are limited and are available to order through local KTM Dealers, this replica machine, which has been developed with KTM’s factory racers, is the real deal and has enabled many, many Dakar riders to take on the challenge over the years to compete in this prestigious race. 2016 will be no different with 32 of the 70 new bikes produced in 2015 lining up to take on this year’s event
“The Dakar” is the most challenging annual rally raid for competitors and vehicles. This especially applies to motorcycles and their riders who not only need enormous riding and navigation skills but also superb physical and mental abilities. Traditionally starting in early January, the race, which was first run in 1979, was originally from Paris to Dakar in Senegal. Over the years the route and starting and finishing points have often been changed. Since 2009 the Dakar Rally has been held in South America. Dakar 2016 will start in Buenos Aires on January 3, 2016 and end in Rosario, also in Argentina on January 16. This year’s route will take riders west across Argentina and north into Bolivia before following the spine of the Andes south, back into Argentina, and on to the finish. There will be a rest day in Salta on January 10. Chile and Peru will not be a part of the rally in 2016, as both countries withdrew from participation in anticipation of extreme weather conditions from the El Niño effect.
When did the Paris–Dakar cease to start and finish at these locations?
Except in 1992 when the rally went from Paris to Cape Town, South Africa, the route was from Paris to Dakar from 1979 to 1994. It was again from Paris to Dakar in 1998 and 2001.
When did it stop being run from Paris?
In 1994 the rally both began and ended in Paris but following complaints by the city’s mayor, the finish was moved from the Champs-Elysees to Euro Disney. Organizers then decided to have different locations for the rally in the following years. Other locations in France, Spain and Portugal hosted the start of the rally in the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s.
When did the Dakar move to South America and why?
In 2008, literally on the eve of the beginning of the rally in Lisbon, Portugal, the Dakar was cancelled after organizers received serious terrorist threats in Mauritania and felt the safety of riders and teams could not be guaranteed. The first of the Dakar Rallies in South America was held in 2009, so 2016 is the eighth time the continent has hosted the world’s most famous motorsports event. Due to the expected extreme weather from the El Niño effect in 2016, Chile and Peru will not be part of the rally this year. The two host countries are Argentina and Bolivia, which is in the program for the third year.
South American Dakar Rallies:
2009: Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile 2010: Buenos Aires, Argentina to Antofagasta, Chile 2011: Buenos Aires to Arica, Chile 2012: Mar del Plata. Argentina to Lima, Peru (Peru was the 27th country to be visited by the Dakar Rally.) 2013: Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile 2014: Rosario, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile (Bolivia became the 28th country to be part of the Dakar Rally. 2015: Buenos Aires, Argentina (start and finish) – included second visit to Bolivia and also traveled to Chile. 2016: Buenos Aires to Rosario (both Argentina) – includes only two host countries – Argentina and Bolivia. Because of expectations of extreme weather from the El Niño effect in 2016, Chile and Peru will not be part of the rally.
How long is the Dakar 2016 and how long does it take?
In 2016 the Dakar Rally starts in Buenos Aires and ends in Rosario. Riders travel west and north into Bolivia then follow the spine of the Andes mountains south before turning east and heading for Rosario in central Argentina. Riders will travel for a total of approximately 9,000 km (5592 miles), including 4543 km of timed specials. Stage One is on January 3 and the final stage is on January 16. The rest day at the halfway mark is scheduled for January 10.
What will be the biggest challenges in 2016?
Organizers have promised 14 days of outstanding racing in 2016. After the withdrawal of Chile and Peru from the program – both countries were aware that extreme weather conditions from the El Niño may have a dramatic influence on the race schedule – organizers went into top gear to reset the route through Argentina and Bolivia. Faced with a series of constraints, they say the new route stands out thanks to its creativity. The 14 days of racing covers more than 9,000 km, with 4,543 km under the clock. According to former KTM factory rider and five times Dakar winner Marc Coma, who is now the rally’s sporting director, a key stage with be in Jujuy on 7th January in the form of a special marathon stage that does not allow any mechanical interventions overnight. During the stay in Bolivia where temperatures will drop as the race gains in altitude, many riders may experience increased difficulty. There will also be a “super special” in Fiambalá (on the Belén to La Rioja stage) where 10 bikes, 10 cars and 5 trucks, chosen according to the results of the previous stage, will set off together as scouts on the special stage. In addition to mastering the difficult navigation, riders will certainly also have to display extraordinary riding, physical and mental skills to reach the finish in Rosario. Previous editions have shown that the Dakar can be cruel to the aspirations of many riders and only the best reach the finish in this most difficult of rallies.
How many riders will there be and what must they achieve?
For 2016 there is a starting list of 153 and around 73 riders are on KTM machinery. In addition to the riders in the official KTM factory teams, some 32 privateers have signed up for the full KTM Customer Service Package. The majority of the competitors are amateurs, many competing to fulfill a lifelong dream.
Credit: via KTM
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