Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Riders count down to Dakar 2016
With just two weeks to go to before the 38th edition of the Dakar Rally, the Europe-based members of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team, including Austria’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Matthias Walkner, met at the Austrian headquarters of KISKA in Salzburg for a pre-event presentation. The team goes to the start in Buenos Aires with a shared goal – the 15th win for KTM!
The design agency KISKA has been the birthplace of every KTM since the beginning of the 1990s. It is also where – working with the engineers – everything began for five-times Dakar winner Marc Coma, and where he now drew a line under his active racing career.
Pit Beirer (KTM Motorsport Director): “Marc Coma already surprised us in the summer with his decision to take on the role of Sports Director of the Dakar Rally. After all, he was the clear number one among the top riders, and right behind him were our so-called young guns. But they immediately understood their new mission in the first rally after Coma’s announcement and were equal to the competition. Now I believe we can expect a very exciting rally to launch our motorsports season.”
Heinz Kinigadner (KTM Motorsport Consultant): “I am convinced that we already have a worthy follower in our team. For example, our Australian Toby Price immediately took a podium place in his first Dakar last year. Now we’ve run the factory team at the rally for more than 20 years, I also believe that for the first time we have a good chance of having an Austrian up with the leaders in 2016.”
Matthias Walkner: “Naturally there is a certain expectation from my side, which in the first place I have satisfy. I’ve prepared myself very well this time. Last year, for example, I was ready for the big race after only one week. This year I’ve been preparing for the Dakar since the final rally in Morocco and I haven’t finished yet. I really had an unexpectedly good season but that doesn’t mean that as world champion I will automatically be on the podium. If I manage to finish the two weeks and more than 9,000 km more or less with no problems, then somewhere between places five and three is quite realistic.”
Toby Price, who will join the team in Argentina, was not present at KISKA as he is currently at home in Australia. Unfortunately for Walkner’s teammate Sam Sunderland the Dakar 2016 comes just a little too soon after he fractured a femur in training just after the final rally in Morocco.
Following Coma’s retirement, Jordi Viladoms, riding in his 10th Dakar, takes on the role of the most experienced team member. In contrast, Enduro 2 World Champion Antoine Meo is to compete in his first Dakar Rally. Meanwhile, Spanish rider Laia Sanz wants to follow up her impressive top 10 finish in 2015 with another top result on her KTM 450 RALLY.
The Dakar Rally 2016 starts on Saturday January 2 with the prologue in Buenos Aires and finishes two weeks later after 13 stages in the Argentine city of Rosario after a big sweep through both Argentina and Bolivia.