The 34th edition of the Dakar Rally gets underway on January 5, 2013 in Lima, Peru. Kärcher is present for the first time as the official partner of the KTM Rally Factory Team, which starts the toughest rally on the planet with top favorite and title defender Cyril Despres.
For many KTM customers all over the world, the combination of orange and the Kärcher yellow is a natural thing. Now for the first time this partnership has been secured in the KTM factory team with a sponsorship partnership. So at the Dakar 2013 the factory bikes of Cyril Despres und Ruben Faria, Joan Pedrero and Kurt Caselli (the replacement rider for the injured Marc Coma) will feature the Kärcher brand directly under the KTM logo. The common goal for the partners: KTM’s twelfth consecutive Dakar victory!
Cyril, how do you rate your chances of being able to defend your title and take your fifth Dakar Rally victory without your team colleague and hardest opponent Marc Coma? “Well I would say they are as good as they have been on previous years. I have been training hard and although I didn’t do so many races this year I won both the big ones I entered. After that there are so many things that could happen, so many things that in a race like the Dakar you can’t predict, that I am always cautious. I always say that my biggest rival on the Dakar isn’t the other competitors but the desert itself. That is the thing on the Dakar that no one can master!”
What do you think is the secret of KTM’s success? After all riders on KTM bikes from Mattighofen have won every year for the past 11 years. “That’s a slightly easier question to answer. For a start their bike over this period have been the best and that is always a major factor. Then there is the fact that it has always been a priority for KTM. They put a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money in to winning this race, it is the corner stone of their marketing strategy – they really want to win. Then of course now they have a lot of experience. There has been a lot of stability in the team – I have had the same mechanic now for the last 10 years! And that is a big bonus. There is no other motorcycle team in the bivouac with as much experience as we have. For 2013 I don’t think it will be quite as straightforward as there are some new pretty serious teams coming and for sure they are motivated. As always it will be an interesting race!”
Marc, you are unable to start in this year’s Dakar because your shoulder injury has not completely healed. But you are with the team for the start in Lima and you’re going to support them. So we ask you what roll does the technology play at the Dakar, in particular the cleaning and maintenance of your KTM 450 Rally bike after every stage? “Maintenance and reliability for the bikes is one of the most important factors. That is why the motorcycle must be checked and when necessary repaired every day. We wash them thoroughly in the bivouac and that makes it easier for the mechanic to recognize any parts that might be damaged and be able to replace them when necessary.”
Kurt Caselli comments on having the opportunity to join the factory team to stand in for the injured Marc Coma: “It has always been a goal in my career to compete in the Dakar. There would be no way possible for me to achieve this without the ongoing support of KTM. To be able to race the greatest off road race in the world aboard the best bike in the world is truly a blessing.“
All photos by Maragni.