2014 Dakar: KTM Prepares Major Upgrades and a Completely New Chassis
As strange as it may seem, but the rally bike KTM won the 2013 Dakar with had an old chassis, and by old we mean it was developed for the 600cc bikes, and this was more than 2 years ago. After the Dakar regulations imposed a 450cc engine, all KTM did was to update the frame a bit to accommodate the smaller engine, but without any extensive technological progress.
With skilled riders such as Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, the KTM machinery still proved that top performance was at hand even with smaller engines, but now Pierer says it's time to move on. “The chassis really is too big and heavy for that smaller engine, so we have done it like motocross with a nice bike that looks good and hopefully Marc Coma will bring it to the finish line first. Tests are already well underway and if you want to compete against Honda and Yamaha then you must get serious," Pierer added.
The KTM CEO also mentioned the factory's most successful rider in the Dakar: "After a long time and successful collaboration Cyril [Despres] went to Yamaha, but on a very friendly base on both sides because he wanted a new challenge. He will get it for sure if he is now going up against KTM! Honda have also signed a very fast rider…it is not a club race any more."
Asked about the mysterious moves in the industry, Pierer only mentioned that KTM is moving faster than the rest when it comes to making decisions. Explaining why some of the racing operations went down, Pierer also shed some light on the way KTM works:
"If you go through that period with existing products then you just throw discounts, you lose margin and you are dead. We kept all the money aside to do this. We reduced racing activities and we stepped out of two-stroke 125 and 250 GP which saved a couple of million and we invested in new models. In off-road we tried to keep as much as we could but even there we cancelled some activities. As soon as the new bikes came through then the success began again and we soon became profitable once more. Immediately we were attacking. You cannot sit there and wait; it doesn’t get better that way."
Will Coma beat Despres and show that the orange power is bigger no matter who's riding, or will Yamaha be able to provide the Frenchman with a winning bike for the 2104 Dakar? All these answers are some 5 months away...