Interview with the Head of the Rally Department
Please tell us something about the teams for 2008
The KTM teams for the Dakar 2008 include winners from 2006 and 2007, the second-place getter from 2007 and three more top riders. We are therefore represented in the best
possible way, not only in quantity but also in the quality of our riders, who have another Dakar victory firmly in their line of vision. Three of the six riders are presently working hard to heal the after effects of crash injuries so that they can be sure to be on the starting line in really top form. Marc Coma and Cyril Despres are the absolute favourites for the overall victory but there's no way that we are underestimating the top riders of the other brands who are continuously further developing their material. As a principle, I do not give any predictions about who might win the Dakar 2008, because unexpected things come along practically on a daily basis. They require that we take them into consideration and they create a whole new set of circumstances.
All riders are starting with the new 690 Rally, are there any technical changes / improvements when compared to last year?
In principle the 690 Rally remains the same. But we are able to continually make small modifications and improvements from the comprehensive testing that we carry out and as a result of the other rallies that we participate in.
Are there any changes in the regulations and if so, what effects might they have?
As well as the very needy and very strict control of the speed limits, there have been other measures to increase safety, like for example, a separate piste each for motorcycles and other vehicles in Morocco, which is very important. In the marathon sections that do not allow assistance, the factory riders must also ride at a controlled speed, because in the case of a crash they have to be able to get the bike going again without the help of a mechanic. Riders must factor this into their strategy.
How important is the area of customer care at KTM?
It is extremely important for KTM. The 690 Replica has been exclusively developed for our customers. Special prototypes are also used for the factory team. With the Replica, however, KTM chose to produce a machine that from its construction was identical with that of the factory bike. The sale of more than 200 Replicas in the first year of production is an indication of just how well the motorcycle has been accepted.
The Neck Brace System is being continuously further developed. How are riders getting along with it and what kinds of further developments have been made?
The Neck Brace System has been completely accepted by the riders, and after a short period of getting used to it, none of them feel that their movement has been restricted. Because of the sales success of the brace, the manufacturers has sufficient budget at their disposal to carry out intensive further development, and this is now being done.
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