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  1. Dakar 2018: A tough and beautiful race so far As we reach the well-earned rest day of Dakar 2018, it can certainly be said that this year’s route so far has been one of the toughest. From the start in Lima, Peru to today’s rest day in La Paz, Bolivia, the competitors have passed through days of desert and will now head into the mountains, racing at an altitude of over 2,500 meters. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Laia Sanz (ESP), Sam Sunderland (GBR), Matthias Walkner (AUT), Toby Price (AUS) & Antoine Meo (FRA) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2018 © PhotosDakar.com The opening part of the 40th edition of the notorious Rally Dakar was through the dunes and desert in Peru, with off-piste riding, tough climbs, soft sand and high temperatures to battle through. A mass start on the beach on day four offered a different kind of spectacle followed by some tough navigation and difficult terrain, while Day 5 provided the second longest stage of the rally with extremely tough mountainous sand dunes during the special stage. Austrian-ace Matthias Walkner said after Stage 5: “That was such an exhausting day. They said the rally this year was going to be one of the toughest ever and it’s certainly the hardest Dakar so far for me.” Yesterday’s stage brought the riders from Arequipa, Peru to La Paz, and while last year’s winner Sam Sunderland is unfortunately out of the race, the KTM Factory Racing Team is enjoying strong and consistent results from all of its riders aboard their KTM 450 RALLY machines heading into the second half of the event. With 3,034 km covered so far, and over 5,000 km to go across eight stages, including the ultra-challenging marathon stages where no assistance can be given by the team, we take a look at some of the most beautiful images from the race so far … Luciano Benavides (ARG) & Laia Sanz (ESP) Dakar 2018 © PhotosDakar.com Photos: PhotosDakar.com
  2. Dakar 2018: A tough and beautiful race so far

    Dakar 2018: A tough and beautiful race so far As we reach the well-earned rest day of Dakar 2018, it can certainly be said that this year’s route so far has been one of the toughest. From the start in Lima, Peru to today’s rest day in La Paz, Bolivia, the competitors have passed through days of desert and will now head into the mountains, racing at an altitude of over 2,500 meters. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Laia Sanz (ESP), Sam Sunderland (GBR), Matthias Walkner (AUT), Toby Price (AUS) & Antoine Meo (FRA) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2018 © PhotosDakar.com The opening part of the 40th edition of the notorious Rally Dakar was through the dunes and desert in Peru, with off-piste riding, tough climbs, soft sand and high temperatures to battle through. A mass start on the beach on day four offered a different kind of spectacle followed by some tough navigation and difficult terrain, while Day 5 provided the second longest stage of the rally with extremely tough mountainous sand dunes during the special stage. Austrian-ace Matthias Walkner said after Stage 5: “That was such an exhausting day. They said the rally this year was going to be one of the toughest ever and it’s certainly the hardest Dakar so far for me.” Yesterday’s stage brought the riders from Arequipa, Peru to La Paz, and while last year’s winner Sam Sunderland is unfortunately out of the race, the KTM Factory Racing Team is enjoying strong and consistent results from all of its riders aboard their KTM 450 RALLY machines heading into the second half of the event. With 3,034 km covered so far, and over 5,000 km to go across eight stages, including the ultra-challenging marathon stages where no assistance can be given by the team, we take a look at some of the most beautiful images from the race so far … Luciano Benavides (ARG) & Laia Sanz (ESP) Dakar 2018 © PhotosDakar.com Photos: PhotosDakar.com
  3. Lyndon Poskitt: Malle Moto and the true spirit of the Dakar Posted in People, Racing The Dakar is often referred to as the world’s toughest rally, with most of the attention focused on the factory riders battling for victory. But some would say they have it easy compared to the heroes that decide to enter the Malle Moto class. The Dakar rule book simply describes the Malle Moto class as a ‘challenge created for Bike and Quad Riders without ANY KIND OF SERVICE’. What that means exactly is that competitors have to do everything themselves. They ride their bikes, service and prepare their bikes, and receive no outside assistance throughout the event. Lyndon Poskitt is one of those brave riders who has decided to take on the Dakar in its purest form. Read about the Brit’s experience of last year’s race and how he prepared for Dakar Malle Moto 2018 … Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) 2017 © Future7Media A challenge like no other “In 2016 I decided to give the Malle Moto class a go and totally underestimated how hard it would be. I thought I would be ok, I thought if I stayed focused and rode sensibly it wouldn’t be too bad, but you would not believe how much it wears you down. Even when things are going well, you get more and more tired every day. When people ask me how it went and say ‘oh, you did really well, you came second last year’ – let me tell you, it was a struggle. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing The spirit of the race is completely different in the Malle Moto category. Everybody is in the same boat, they have to do everything themselves. Of course, when something happens there is this huge camaraderie of everyone getting together, it’s like a big family helping each other out. When you see some of the guys coming in early in the morning when you are getting ready to go out, you feel so bad for them, they might get an hour’s sleep at the most before heading out again themselves. Personally, I like the phrase Malle is Rally. The class is definitely the traditional way to ride the Dakar. That’s how it was originally, but now it’s evolved into this huge commercial event. While I do have some very good sponsors – I wouldn’t be able to compete without them – I do like to keep things traditional and that’s something I try to share in the media I produce.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Lack of sleep and the will to keep on going “Luckily, I only had a couple of those bad nights with no sleep. There was a huge landslide last year and they had to put a detour in place. The whole day was 1150 km long, we had already raced the stage, then had to do a 600 km liaison only to arrive at a road block and be told we had to go a different way. It was already 7:30 pm and we had to ride another 350 km. Even then I thought I would be able to get in by about 10 o’ clock, but the route was all offroad and so gnarly. It was full of trucks kicking up dust and was really tough going. I managed to get back to the bivouac at 1.30 am in the morning and was the only Malle Moto bike home – everyone else was still out there. I prepped the bike really quickly, grabbed some food and was in bed by 2 am. We were due to be up again at 4.30 am but the stage ended up getting cancelled, so luckily all the other riders had plenty of time to get back. Despite only getting a couple of hours sleep, I was all set to go. I still got up and was ready and when I went outside there were only four other bikes that had made it back, five of us in total.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Bike maintenance, solo bike maintenance “Every day without fail, the rear tire and mousse have to be changed, the front can sometimes last for a couple of days. It’s the only thing we are allowed to have assistance with. It’s strange why that is, but the Malle Moto organization won’t let you take a mousse changer, you have to go to Michelin to have them changed. Even though they are happy to change them for you, I would prefer to be able to change them by myself. I am quite proficient at changing tires and mousses and the problem with having someone else do it is that you have to carry your wheels and the new tires and mousses anything up to 500 meters to get them changed. It’s an added stress, especially in 40-degree heat. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing The bikes themselves are so strong. All there is to do is change the oil and filters and generally I only do that every other night. The air filter gets changed every day, then there’s small jobs like tensioning and lubing the chain and a general check over of the bike. It doesn’t sound like too much but what is crazy is how time runs away with you – just a few little jobs can easily take up to two hours. If you get in at 7 pm, it’s soon 9 pm and you still have to get some food, sort your roadbook and attend the riders’ meeting before even thinking about sleep. You’re lucky if you get to bed before midnight and then you’re up again at 3 am. Last year I learnt to make the absolute most of my time – get things done, don’t talk, don’t go to see people, you haven’t got time for that. It sounds extreme but that’s how you have to be in that class. Last year, I wasn’t rushing to bed and that’s something that has to change this year. I need to get stuff done quickly and get to sleep. An hour’s extra rest each night will mean a massive boost for me.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing What´s in the box? “For the 2018 Dakar my Malle Moto box is going to be way more organized than last year. I learnt the hard way that you need to have everything organized, again so you don’t waste any time searching around for something. This year I am properly prepared, with separate little boxes inside for various tools and everything sits in there really nicely. Tool wise, I only carry what I need. When I was building up my bike in the workshop I tried to use the smallest possible tools I could, and then put it to one side. I knew when the bike was done I had every single tool I needed to take to the Dakar. In another section of the box I have all my consumables; greases, oils, cable-ties, all the things you need throughout the day to keep you going. In the bottom of the box I have all my electrical spares, not just for the bike but for the navigation equipment too, because without that, your rally is over. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing I keep all my energy gels in there and hydration kits. I don’t take anything that I don’t really need. The box is pretty full but for this year I managed to squeeze a bike cover in too, which comes in handy overnight in the desert. One thing that is really important is a good headtorch. I have them hidden all over the place; one on my bike, one in my gear bag and a couple in my Malle Moto box because if you lose those, you’re in trouble. You are allowed to have someone carry things for you, but it costs money so a lot of people don’t do it. I have KTM Racing take some oil and filters, things like that and I replenish my box at the rest day. My tires and mousses for example cost me about 1500 Euro just to have them shipped with another team.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Motorcycle loneliness “It’s really important to stay strong. No matter how low you are feeling, because you are on your own. You have to keep pushing on. When I got to about four days from the end last year, I was completely broken. I was tired, exhausted and hurting. But somehow, I managed to get to the finish. You have to be really strong minded to do the Dakar, especially in Malle Moto. I fell asleep on the liaison a couple of times last year, one of the hardest things is trying to stay awake. Once you are in the stage it’s fine because your adrenalin is up, but in the morning liaison, when it’s pitch black, cold and raining, you really struggle to stay awake. If you’re lucky you might just nod off for a split second and catch yourself, but twice in 2017 I ran off the road and onto the dirt and woke up riding along with an Armco barrier right next to me. That shook me up a little and so I stopped by the side of the road for a break. I must have slept for only about five minutes maximum and was woken up when the next bike came past, but that five minutes was all I needed, I set off again and felt much better.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Media commitments “Most of the other Malle Moto riders wonder how I do it, but if it wasn’t for the media side of things and the exposure that gets, I wouldn’t be able to compete. I’m not a factory racer, I’m not in a position where I’m going to win the event, but what I can do is relate to people. They can see I’m just a normal guy having a go at the Dakar. To be able to share my experiences is what is helping me to actually get there, and achieve my goals as well. I think now, that feeling of being able to share my adventures is 50 % of the drive behind wanting to do it. I love the social media side of things, I love the support and interest from people all over the world and it encourages me to do more. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing What I’ll be doing this year with the daily video posts is a massive undertaking. We’ve got two people on-site and one person back in the UK receiving the data. It’s all got to be edited on the fly, which is super-technical and difficult to do. Other than the big teams with their big budgets, nobody has tried it before, so hopefully with a little luck we can pull it off and give the viewer a real taste of what the Dakar is like for a regular guy like me. One of the key things for me is that the footage has to be authentic. It won’t change who I am and I won’t try to be something I’m not. I am always conscious about getting some shots though, even if that means stopping in the middle of a stage to capture something important. It takes a little time at the beginning of the day to set up the cameras, and then starting and stopping the cameras where I feel the best content is. There are a lot of riders on social media and YouTube putting together cool little edits now, but I’m hoping my videos will be more timeless than that. They’ll tell more of a story and show the true side of the Dakar.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing When it´s all over “Following on from the Dakar, after everything is finished, things are still tough. I took a week off at the end of last year’s event, but the effects last a lot longer than that. I was struggling to sleep properly for ages, finding myself awake for a lot of the night and I just couldn’t get back into a healthy rhythm again. Hopefully at the end of the 2018 event, everything will have gone well and I will have hours of footage to share with my followers. The Dakar really is something special, something unique and to be able to share my experiences of riding it is a real honor. I just hope everyone else enjoys sharing my journey …” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Photos: Future7Media | Lyndon Poskitt Racing
  4. Lyndon Poskitt: Malle Moto and the true spirit of the Dakar Posted in People, Racing The Dakar is often referred to as the world’s toughest rally, with most of the attention focused on the factory riders battling for victory. But some would say they have it easy compared to the heroes that decide to enter the Malle Moto class. The Dakar rule book simply describes the Malle Moto class as a ‘challenge created for Bike and Quad Riders without ANY KIND OF SERVICE’. What that means exactly is that competitors have to do everything themselves. They ride their bikes, service and prepare their bikes, and receive no outside assistance throughout the event. Lyndon Poskitt is one of those brave riders who has decided to take on the Dakar in its purest form. Read about the Brit’s experience of last year’s race and how he prepared for Dakar Malle Moto 2018 … Lyndon Poskitt (GBR) 2017 © Future7Media A challenge like no other “In 2016 I decided to give the Malle Moto class a go and totally underestimated how hard it would be. I thought I would be ok, I thought if I stayed focused and rode sensibly it wouldn’t be too bad, but you would not believe how much it wears you down. Even when things are going well, you get more and more tired every day. When people ask me how it went and say ‘oh, you did really well, you came second last year’ – let me tell you, it was a struggle. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing The spirit of the race is completely different in the Malle Moto category. Everybody is in the same boat, they have to do everything themselves. Of course, when something happens there is this huge camaraderie of everyone getting together, it’s like a big family helping each other out. When you see some of the guys coming in early in the morning when you are getting ready to go out, you feel so bad for them, they might get an hour’s sleep at the most before heading out again themselves. Personally, I like the phrase Malle is Rally. The class is definitely the traditional way to ride the Dakar. That’s how it was originally, but now it’s evolved into this huge commercial event. While I do have some very good sponsors – I wouldn’t be able to compete without them – I do like to keep things traditional and that’s something I try to share in the media I produce.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Lack of sleep and the will to keep on going “Luckily, I only had a couple of those bad nights with no sleep. There was a huge landslide last year and they had to put a detour in place. The whole day was 1150 km long, we had already raced the stage, then had to do a 600 km liaison only to arrive at a road block and be told we had to go a different way. It was already 7:30 pm and we had to ride another 350 km. Even then I thought I would be able to get in by about 10 o’ clock, but the route was all offroad and so gnarly. It was full of trucks kicking up dust and was really tough going. I managed to get back to the bivouac at 1.30 am in the morning and was the only Malle Moto bike home – everyone else was still out there. I prepped the bike really quickly, grabbed some food and was in bed by 2 am. We were due to be up again at 4.30 am but the stage ended up getting cancelled, so luckily all the other riders had plenty of time to get back. Despite only getting a couple of hours sleep, I was all set to go. I still got up and was ready and when I went outside there were only four other bikes that had made it back, five of us in total.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Bike maintenance, solo bike maintenance “Every day without fail, the rear tire and mousse have to be changed, the front can sometimes last for a couple of days. It’s the only thing we are allowed to have assistance with. It’s strange why that is, but the Malle Moto organization won’t let you take a mousse changer, you have to go to Michelin to have them changed. Even though they are happy to change them for you, I would prefer to be able to change them by myself. I am quite proficient at changing tires and mousses and the problem with having someone else do it is that you have to carry your wheels and the new tires and mousses anything up to 500 meters to get them changed. It’s an added stress, especially in 40-degree heat. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing The bikes themselves are so strong. All there is to do is change the oil and filters and generally I only do that every other night. The air filter gets changed every day, then there’s small jobs like tensioning and lubing the chain and a general check over of the bike. It doesn’t sound like too much but what is crazy is how time runs away with you – just a few little jobs can easily take up to two hours. If you get in at 7 pm, it’s soon 9 pm and you still have to get some food, sort your roadbook and attend the riders’ meeting before even thinking about sleep. You’re lucky if you get to bed before midnight and then you’re up again at 3 am. Last year I learnt to make the absolute most of my time – get things done, don’t talk, don’t go to see people, you haven’t got time for that. It sounds extreme but that’s how you have to be in that class. Last year, I wasn’t rushing to bed and that’s something that has to change this year. I need to get stuff done quickly and get to sleep. An hour’s extra rest each night will mean a massive boost for me.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing What´s in the box? “For the 2018 Dakar my Malle Moto box is going to be way more organized than last year. I learnt the hard way that you need to have everything organized, again so you don’t waste any time searching around for something. This year I am properly prepared, with separate little boxes inside for various tools and everything sits in there really nicely. Tool wise, I only carry what I need. When I was building up my bike in the workshop I tried to use the smallest possible tools I could, and then put it to one side. I knew when the bike was done I had every single tool I needed to take to the Dakar. In another section of the box I have all my consumables; greases, oils, cable-ties, all the things you need throughout the day to keep you going. In the bottom of the box I have all my electrical spares, not just for the bike but for the navigation equipment too, because without that, your rally is over. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing I keep all my energy gels in there and hydration kits. I don’t take anything that I don’t really need. The box is pretty full but for this year I managed to squeeze a bike cover in too, which comes in handy overnight in the desert. One thing that is really important is a good headtorch. I have them hidden all over the place; one on my bike, one in my gear bag and a couple in my Malle Moto box because if you lose those, you’re in trouble. You are allowed to have someone carry things for you, but it costs money so a lot of people don’t do it. I have KTM Racing take some oil and filters, things like that and I replenish my box at the rest day. My tires and mousses for example cost me about 1500 Euro just to have them shipped with another team.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Motorcycle loneliness “It’s really important to stay strong. No matter how low you are feeling, because you are on your own. You have to keep pushing on. When I got to about four days from the end last year, I was completely broken. I was tired, exhausted and hurting. But somehow, I managed to get to the finish. You have to be really strong minded to do the Dakar, especially in Malle Moto. I fell asleep on the liaison a couple of times last year, one of the hardest things is trying to stay awake. Once you are in the stage it’s fine because your adrenalin is up, but in the morning liaison, when it’s pitch black, cold and raining, you really struggle to stay awake. If you’re lucky you might just nod off for a split second and catch yourself, but twice in 2017 I ran off the road and onto the dirt and woke up riding along with an Armco barrier right next to me. That shook me up a little and so I stopped by the side of the road for a break. I must have slept for only about five minutes maximum and was woken up when the next bike came past, but that five minutes was all I needed, I set off again and felt much better.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Media commitments “Most of the other Malle Moto riders wonder how I do it, but if it wasn’t for the media side of things and the exposure that gets, I wouldn’t be able to compete. I’m not a factory racer, I’m not in a position where I’m going to win the event, but what I can do is relate to people. They can see I’m just a normal guy having a go at the Dakar. To be able to share my experiences is what is helping me to actually get there, and achieve my goals as well. I think now, that feeling of being able to share my adventures is 50 % of the drive behind wanting to do it. I love the social media side of things, I love the support and interest from people all over the world and it encourages me to do more. © Lyndon Poskitt Racing What I’ll be doing this year with the daily video posts is a massive undertaking. We’ve got two people on-site and one person back in the UK receiving the data. It’s all got to be edited on the fly, which is super-technical and difficult to do. Other than the big teams with their big budgets, nobody has tried it before, so hopefully with a little luck we can pull it off and give the viewer a real taste of what the Dakar is like for a regular guy like me. One of the key things for me is that the footage has to be authentic. It won’t change who I am and I won’t try to be something I’m not. I am always conscious about getting some shots though, even if that means stopping in the middle of a stage to capture something important. It takes a little time at the beginning of the day to set up the cameras, and then starting and stopping the cameras where I feel the best content is. There are a lot of riders on social media and YouTube putting together cool little edits now, but I’m hoping my videos will be more timeless than that. They’ll tell more of a story and show the true side of the Dakar.” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing When it´s all over “Following on from the Dakar, after everything is finished, things are still tough. I took a week off at the end of last year’s event, but the effects last a lot longer than that. I was struggling to sleep properly for ages, finding myself awake for a lot of the night and I just couldn’t get back into a healthy rhythm again. Hopefully at the end of the 2018 event, everything will have gone well and I will have hours of footage to share with my followers. The Dakar really is something special, something unique and to be able to share my experiences of riding it is a real honor. I just hope everyone else enjoys sharing my journey …” © Lyndon Poskitt Racing Photos: Future7Media | Lyndon Poskitt Racing
  5. ktm His last road to Dakar #3

    His last road to Dakar #3 This will be the final time former GP racer Jurgen van den Goorbergh prepares for the toughest of all rallies; the Rally Dakar. The 48-year-old is neck deep into his preparations for his tenth go at the race. In three episodes we will be following his endeavors. Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions It’s been a few years since Jurgen van den Goorbergh celebrated New Year’s Eve with his family. A choice he made willingly, mind you. The last nine years he’s been partaking in the Rally Dakar, that sets off annually on one the first days of the year. Though this year the start date is a bit more family friendly, so he will able to raise a glass of champagne with the family, only to take to the sky the day after. He will eventually land in South America; Lima to be precise. Two weeks racing will depart from the Peruvian capital on January 6, with 14 stages planned. “This will be my last go at it, and I’ve got two reasons I’m going at it this one last time. Firstly, I want to show I can run my self-built Dakar bike – based off the KTM 450 EXC-F – reliably. Secondly, it’s the route for 2018. We start off in Peru, which is why I just had to go. The Peruvian desert has some of the most incredible sand dunes; those are just magical. I’m really looking forward to it.” After those six days, the 48-year-old Dutch rider will pass into Bolivia, with a lot more technical stages planned. “That sort of terrain should suite my bike very well. It’s light and agile, so it should be good. That’s where it should shine brightest.” During last year’s edition heavy rain ruined play in Bolivia, but van den Goorbergh isn’t expecting a rerun of that this year. “I’ve been in contact with Chavo Salvatierra (Bolivian Dakar rider) as he’s using a few parts I’ve made him, and he assured me the weather looks a lot better than it did last year. It’s by no means certain it won’t rain, but it will always be better than last time.” Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) KTM 450 EXC-F 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Difficult game Leaving well-prepared, van den Goorbergh is really looking forward to getting this Rally Dakar on the road. Priority for the first few days is to find a rhythm he can keep up for the entire fortnight. Also an important part of the race is to get a hang of navigating at high speeds. “Obviously I’m bike fit, but that is mostly from training on an Enduro bike. The rally bike’s been tested in the roughest of terrains, but I won’t put too many miles on it. I have to save that for South America. The big boys get to train on their race bikes on a day to day basis. I would’ve done a few smaller raids if they weren’t so incredibly expensive.” Because of that, van den Goorbergh will have to get used to navigating again. “I have to regain the rhythm, because I know full well I will be messy at first. You’re used to going way faster, but now you have to look down at the roadbook from time to time. You get distracted, so focus is an absolute must; a split second of losing focus and you’re in trouble. You have to be able to look down, think, and then take the right trail. That’s what makes a rally raid so interesting. If all came down to raw speed, they’d sent Jeffrey Herlings into the desert.” Navigating itself has changed a lot since last year, partially influenced by Marc Coma as the acting sporting director for the Dakar. It has become more difficult. “Waypoints are way more hidden now. In the past you’d be able to see the waypoint half a mile out. That won’t be the case anymore, so you’ll be looking at the roadbook more. And obviously you’re going to have to rely on your navigating skills more now.” And that is hardly easy, as van den Goorbergh knows all too well. It doesn’t take much to get into trouble. “If you run wide through a corner or if you cut it, you won’t notice until a few miles down the road your mileage is off by like 300 meters of more. That makes all the difference when it comes to taking the right route down to waypoints that only validate when you pass them by 90 meters or less. So you’re constantly correcting the miles you’ve put on the clock. It’s a difficult game, navigating.” © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions No rest for the weary It’s not just navigating that could cause potential headaches for van den Goorbergh. The fact he’s running in the Malle Moto class (malle means box in French) is an extra challenge in itself. “Running in the Malle Moto is hardship. You’re not just on the bike during the day, you’re also working on it when you get to the bivouac. No-one’s allowed to help you, and that gets tough.” The days are long for van den Goorbergh and his fellow Malle Moto riders (28 in total!). “My alarm goes at around 3.30 am, because we’re usually set to depart at around 5.00 am. By the time you come back in, it’s the end of the afternoon, with little time to eat and shower. It’s simply time you don’t have as a Malle Moto contestant. You’re tired, but you are going to have to get your hands dirty, too. Otherwise the bike won’t be ready for the next day. I have a work schedule for every single day, and that’s easily an hour’s work. And that is purely maintenance, not including repairing mishaps from the stage. If you crash or run into mechanical troubles, you’ve got your work cut out for you.” In Malle Moto you can call yourself a lucky man if you make it to bed by about 11.00 pm. Most of the times you don’t even get that luxury. “That is where a lot of the big boys make the biggest gains on us, because they’ll be calling it a day at 9.00 pm. They get to rest, which in turn helps them focus the next day. Malle Moto doesn’t just get hard, it gets dangerous, because you’ve got so little time to rest.” For the bigger problems, van den Goorbergh can call in some help with KTM. “Smaller parts like footpegs and levers I’ve got in the box, but it isn’t bottomless. If I bend or brake my bars, I can walk by KTM’s service truck. I can buy parts like that off them. Then again it’s better if you never need to bother them for parts, because that usually means you’ve been in a crash. Something that is extra heavy to have to deal with for a Malle Moto rider.” © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions One up Jurgen van den Goorbergh has to finish the Dakar, living out of the box the organizers (fixed measurements of 80 x 44 x 36 cm) take to the next bivouac every day. “My box is really two boxes, with the first one lined with loose bits and pieces; bike parts. The second one houses my tools. Because this is my fourth attempt at the Malle Moto class I know exactly what to bring. When I first took the challenge in 2015, I had completely overloaded my tool box, even though I thought I was well enough informed by a duo of former contestants. At camp there’s a work bench for Malle Moto riders, which I’m glad to be able to use. First time around I had brought an axle grinder; something you’re only ever going to be using once, so you might as well borrow it when you need it.” Apart from the box, Malle Moto riders are allowed to load up a set off wheels, a tent, and a bag of clothes. The organizers take those from one bivouac to the next. For other stuff, van den Goorbergh counts on befriended teams to carry it for him. “As a Malle Moto rider everyone knows how tough you’re going to get it, so they’re never too hard on you when you ask for a favor, like carrying a bag or some parts for you on their truck. The organizer also know about the hardships a Malle Moto rider goes through, so they think with the riders. For instance by placing the Malle Moto camp centrally in the bivouac; close to the tent where we can get food and drinks, but also close to the Michelin trucks. That alone saves a lot of time carrying wheels and tires across the bivouac.” Despite all of the challenges of the Malle Moto class, the former MotoGPTM rider wouldn’t have it any other way. “The purest way of approaching it. I did my first Dakar in 2009, and everything was smooth sailing. I came in seventeenth in my debut Rally Dakar; an incredible performance. I was rookie of the year too, which made it extra special. On paper it’s my best result by miles, but it doesn’t feel like it. Becoming the 2016 Malle Moto winner felt more special. Doing it all by yourself gives you a bigger feeling of accomplishment at the end of it all.” Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Extra challenge It would be a fantastic ending to van den Goorbergh’s Dakar career if he could just take victory in the Malle Moto class in 2018. Though things have gotten a bit more interesting for the Dutchman when he heard Olivier Pain will be running in the specialist class as well. “It was quite a surprise to hear that. Pain is an elite rider, so you wouldn’t expect him to go and run in the Malle Moto class. He’s obviously a really good rider; you would have to be to take third overall like he did in 2014. And the big boys sure know how to swing a wrench, so that won’t be much of a problem either. His only downfall might be him trying to show off his speed. He’s used to doing so for years, but in Malle Moto you’re going to have employ a different strategy altogether.” Van den Goorbergh discovered firsthand how risky eagerness can be in the Dakar. “Last year I went off just a few days into the rally, partly because I was going too fast that day. I was making good time, but in the end it didn’t pay off as I crashed. That one spill caused a DNF, so you really have to be careful.” Despite finding a new rival in the fast Frenchman, the goal remains clear for the Dutchman. Finishing on his self-built Dakar bike is pretty much all that matters. “Of course I want to do a good job and finish as high up as possible. In riding Pain one-ups me, but that does not mean I can’t beat him. It isn’t just about raw speed; tactics play a big role. If I do make it to the end, I want to be on the Malle Moto rostrum. When things go to plan, that is feasible. Concerning the overall standings, I’d like to be in with the first fifty riders for the first week. If I can keep up with consistency, I can’t go wrong. In the final week riders will start to retire, allowing me to move up a few places. My goal is to make it to the top 35, and I’m going to give it my all.” Don’t want to miss out on Jurgen van den Goorbergh’s process during the Dakar Rally? Then make sure you follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
  6. His last road to Dakar #3

    His last road to Dakar #3 This will be the final time former GP racer Jurgen van den Goorbergh prepares for the toughest of all rallies; the Rally Dakar. The 48-year-old is neck deep into his preparations for his tenth go at the race. In three episodes we will be following his endeavors. Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions It’s been a few years since Jurgen van den Goorbergh celebrated New Year’s Eve with his family. A choice he made willingly, mind you. The last nine years he’s been partaking in the Rally Dakar, that sets off annually on one the first days of the year. Though this year the start date is a bit more family friendly, so he will able to raise a glass of champagne with the family, only to take to the sky the day after. He will eventually land in South America; Lima to be precise. Two weeks racing will depart from the Peruvian capital on January 6, with 14 stages planned. “This will be my last go at it, and I’ve got two reasons I’m going at it this one last time. Firstly, I want to show I can run my self-built Dakar bike – based off the KTM 450 EXC-F – reliably. Secondly, it’s the route for 2018. We start off in Peru, which is why I just had to go. The Peruvian desert has some of the most incredible sand dunes; those are just magical. I’m really looking forward to it.” After those six days, the 48-year-old Dutch rider will pass into Bolivia, with a lot more technical stages planned. “That sort of terrain should suite my bike very well. It’s light and agile, so it should be good. That’s where it should shine brightest.” During last year’s edition heavy rain ruined play in Bolivia, but van den Goorbergh isn’t expecting a rerun of that this year. “I’ve been in contact with Chavo Salvatierra (Bolivian Dakar rider) as he’s using a few parts I’ve made him, and he assured me the weather looks a lot better than it did last year. It’s by no means certain it won’t rain, but it will always be better than last time.” Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) KTM 450 EXC-F 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Difficult game Leaving well-prepared, van den Goorbergh is really looking forward to getting this Rally Dakar on the road. Priority for the first few days is to find a rhythm he can keep up for the entire fortnight. Also an important part of the race is to get a hang of navigating at high speeds. “Obviously I’m bike fit, but that is mostly from training on an Enduro bike. The rally bike’s been tested in the roughest of terrains, but I won’t put too many miles on it. I have to save that for South America. The big boys get to train on their race bikes on a day to day basis. I would’ve done a few smaller raids if they weren’t so incredibly expensive.” Because of that, van den Goorbergh will have to get used to navigating again. “I have to regain the rhythm, because I know full well I will be messy at first. You’re used to going way faster, but now you have to look down at the roadbook from time to time. You get distracted, so focus is an absolute must; a split second of losing focus and you’re in trouble. You have to be able to look down, think, and then take the right trail. That’s what makes a rally raid so interesting. If all came down to raw speed, they’d sent Jeffrey Herlings into the desert.” Navigating itself has changed a lot since last year, partially influenced by Marc Coma as the acting sporting director for the Dakar. It has become more difficult. “Waypoints are way more hidden now. In the past you’d be able to see the waypoint half a mile out. That won’t be the case anymore, so you’ll be looking at the roadbook more. And obviously you’re going to have to rely on your navigating skills more now.” And that is hardly easy, as van den Goorbergh knows all too well. It doesn’t take much to get into trouble. “If you run wide through a corner or if you cut it, you won’t notice until a few miles down the road your mileage is off by like 300 meters of more. That makes all the difference when it comes to taking the right route down to waypoints that only validate when you pass them by 90 meters or less. So you’re constantly correcting the miles you’ve put on the clock. It’s a difficult game, navigating.” © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions No rest for the weary It’s not just navigating that could cause potential headaches for van den Goorbergh. The fact he’s running in the Malle Moto class (malle means box in French) is an extra challenge in itself. “Running in the Malle Moto is hardship. You’re not just on the bike during the day, you’re also working on it when you get to the bivouac. No-one’s allowed to help you, and that gets tough.” The days are long for van den Goorbergh and his fellow Malle Moto riders (28 in total!). “My alarm goes at around 3.30 am, because we’re usually set to depart at around 5.00 am. By the time you come back in, it’s the end of the afternoon, with little time to eat and shower. It’s simply time you don’t have as a Malle Moto contestant. You’re tired, but you are going to have to get your hands dirty, too. Otherwise the bike won’t be ready for the next day. I have a work schedule for every single day, and that’s easily an hour’s work. And that is purely maintenance, not including repairing mishaps from the stage. If you crash or run into mechanical troubles, you’ve got your work cut out for you.” In Malle Moto you can call yourself a lucky man if you make it to bed by about 11.00 pm. Most of the times you don’t even get that luxury. “That is where a lot of the big boys make the biggest gains on us, because they’ll be calling it a day at 9.00 pm. They get to rest, which in turn helps them focus the next day. Malle Moto doesn’t just get hard, it gets dangerous, because you’ve got so little time to rest.” For the bigger problems, van den Goorbergh can call in some help with KTM. “Smaller parts like footpegs and levers I’ve got in the box, but it isn’t bottomless. If I bend or brake my bars, I can walk by KTM’s service truck. I can buy parts like that off them. Then again it’s better if you never need to bother them for parts, because that usually means you’ve been in a crash. Something that is extra heavy to have to deal with for a Malle Moto rider.” © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions One up Jurgen van den Goorbergh has to finish the Dakar, living out of the box the organizers (fixed measurements of 80 x 44 x 36 cm) take to the next bivouac every day. “My box is really two boxes, with the first one lined with loose bits and pieces; bike parts. The second one houses my tools. Because this is my fourth attempt at the Malle Moto class I know exactly what to bring. When I first took the challenge in 2015, I had completely overloaded my tool box, even though I thought I was well enough informed by a duo of former contestants. At camp there’s a work bench for Malle Moto riders, which I’m glad to be able to use. First time around I had brought an axle grinder; something you’re only ever going to be using once, so you might as well borrow it when you need it.” Apart from the box, Malle Moto riders are allowed to load up a set off wheels, a tent, and a bag of clothes. The organizers take those from one bivouac to the next. For other stuff, van den Goorbergh counts on befriended teams to carry it for him. “As a Malle Moto rider everyone knows how tough you’re going to get it, so they’re never too hard on you when you ask for a favor, like carrying a bag or some parts for you on their truck. The organizer also know about the hardships a Malle Moto rider goes through, so they think with the riders. For instance by placing the Malle Moto camp centrally in the bivouac; close to the tent where we can get food and drinks, but also close to the Michelin trucks. That alone saves a lot of time carrying wheels and tires across the bivouac.” Despite all of the challenges of the Malle Moto class, the former MotoGPTM rider wouldn’t have it any other way. “The purest way of approaching it. I did my first Dakar in 2009, and everything was smooth sailing. I came in seventeenth in my debut Rally Dakar; an incredible performance. I was rookie of the year too, which made it extra special. On paper it’s my best result by miles, but it doesn’t feel like it. Becoming the 2016 Malle Moto winner felt more special. Doing it all by yourself gives you a bigger feeling of accomplishment at the end of it all.” Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Extra challenge It would be a fantastic ending to van den Goorbergh’s Dakar career if he could just take victory in the Malle Moto class in 2018. Though things have gotten a bit more interesting for the Dutchman when he heard Olivier Pain will be running in the specialist class as well. “It was quite a surprise to hear that. Pain is an elite rider, so you wouldn’t expect him to go and run in the Malle Moto class. He’s obviously a really good rider; you would have to be to take third overall like he did in 2014. And the big boys sure know how to swing a wrench, so that won’t be much of a problem either. His only downfall might be him trying to show off his speed. He’s used to doing so for years, but in Malle Moto you’re going to have employ a different strategy altogether.” Van den Goorbergh discovered firsthand how risky eagerness can be in the Dakar. “Last year I went off just a few days into the rally, partly because I was going too fast that day. I was making good time, but in the end it didn’t pay off as I crashed. That one spill caused a DNF, so you really have to be careful.” Despite finding a new rival in the fast Frenchman, the goal remains clear for the Dutchman. Finishing on his self-built Dakar bike is pretty much all that matters. “Of course I want to do a good job and finish as high up as possible. In riding Pain one-ups me, but that does not mean I can’t beat him. It isn’t just about raw speed; tactics play a big role. If I do make it to the end, I want to be on the Malle Moto rostrum. When things go to plan, that is feasible. Concerning the overall standings, I’d like to be in with the first fifty riders for the first week. If I can keep up with consistency, I can’t go wrong. In the final week riders will start to retire, allowing me to move up a few places. My goal is to make it to the top 35, and I’m going to give it my all.” Don’t want to miss out on Jurgen van den Goorbergh’s process during the Dakar Rally? Then make sure you follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
  7. The KTM 450 RALLY – Unbeaten at the Dakar KTM has enjoyed no fewer than 16 consecutive Rally Dakar victories. Even since 2011, when rules changed and engine sizes were reduced to a maximum of 450cc in an effort to bring other manufacturers into the event, KTM have won every single race. With an all-new bike for 2018, KTM once again take to the start well-prepared, well-motivated and hoping to take win number 17 … KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin Following the move of the rally from Africa to South America in 2009, the routes and type of terrains used varied dramatically to the long, flat-out stages of the ‘original’ North African Dakar. In 2011 it was made compulsory for motorcycle engines to not exceed 450cc. This was advertised as ‘levelling the playing field’ for manufacturers in the hope of attracting different brands and with it possibly different winners. At this point KTM had already won the previous nine rallies. The other factor was safety, by reducing the capacity of the machines, overall speeds would be reduced with the bikes easier to handle during the arduous two-week event. Going into the 2011 Dakar, KTM had very little time to develop a specialized 450cc machine. Their solution was to fit a carbureted 450cc motocross engine into the chassis of their Dakar-winning 690 RALLY. Although somewhat crude, the bike was a success and took Marc Coma to his third win at the event. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY 2011 © Future7Media It wasn’t until 2014 that KTM released their first purpose-built 450 RALLY. The bike was designed around a new fuel-injected 450cc engine, the result of which was a far more agile machine. The 450 took Marc Coma to another victory and year-on-year has continued to dominate the Rally Dakar, right up to Sam Sunderland’s win in 2017. Despite their ongoing success, and not wanting to rest on their laurels, KTM already had plans for a newer, slimmer and faster machine. In development for over two years, the latest incarnation of the KTM 450 RALLY is the most capable yet. At first glance you can see the bike is slimmer and more maneuverable. Underneath the updated bodywork and fuel tanks are a whole host of other changes that have come together to create a winning machine. A new frame and swingarm instantly create a narrower bike, a slimmer feeling between the legs for the riders. The bike handles the more technical sections with ease due to the improved design and lighter weight – over 10 kg less than the previous model. The center of gravity on the bike is lower and has been pitched forward, aiding both stability and handling at speed. KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin The swingarm now sits on its pivot inside the rear of the main chassis, this creates a stiffer rear end and makes the bike less twitchy when ridden hard over the roughest terrain. The rear subframe is fully self-supported, manufactured from carbon, and incorporates one of the fuel tanks. In total, the bike carries approximately 31 liters when fully fueled. Up front, to balance the other changes to the chassis, huge 52 mm WP forks are fitted, another big improvement over the outgoing 48 mm versions. The bike keeps it standard size wheels – 21-inch up front and 18-inch on the rear, both shod with Michelin tires and mousses. Moto-Master brakes are fitted to slow down the bikes, mounted on the rear is a 240 mm disc while the front carries a massive 300 mm rotor. These provide enough stopping power to bring the bike to a standstill from speeds of over 180 km/h. KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin With the bike sporting an aggressive-looking black color scheme, Matthias Walkner took the new 450 to the win at the final round of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship in Morocco. It was Matthias’ first victory of the season and the Austrian attributed the success to an improved feeling on the new bike. “The new bike is a massive improvement,” told Matthias. “It feels much safer to ride, although faster at the same time. I think with the input of the younger riders, the bike has progressed a lot and suits the riding style of today. The old bike was a product of the racing as it used to be five or six years ago. Riders like Marc Coma and Jordi Viladoms, who were used to riding the larger capacity machines, perhaps had a different style to how we ride now. A lot of the new, younger riders, coming from a motocross background, prefer the lighter, sleeker feel of the new bike.” Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Future7Media To compliment the changes to the chassis, a new 450cc single-cylinder engine has been fitted. Not only providing better peak performance but also improved response. This is achieved by an all-new throttle body and engine management system. The bike is not only faster now but easier to ride at slower speeds when the going gets really tricky and the rider needs that added control. These combined advantages will really come into their own during an event like the Dakar. With competitors covering close to 9,000 km over 14 stages the race is tough on the rider as well as the machine. The new bike, being easier to ride fast over long distances and less of a handful in the slower, technical sections, will help riders stay fresh and focused. KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin Laia Sanz will be contesting her eighth Dakar in 2018. The Spanish multiple world enduro and trials champion feels the new 450 may suit her even more than the rest of the team. “I’m so happy riding the new bike,” explains Laia. “It felt so good In Morocco back in October at the OiLibya Rally. It’s not only lighter and faster but it’s more stable and that makes such a difference on the stages. When you hit an unexpected hole or jump the bike always stays straight and that is such a big improvement over the last bike. For me, I know I’m not as strong as some of the other guys in the team so to have a more nimble, lighter bike is perhaps even more important.” Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Future7Media 2016 Dakar winner, Toby Price has had a tough year. The Australian injured his leg during stage four of the 2017 Dakar – pushing hard to make up lost time, Toby came off his bike in a riverbed and fractured the thighbone on his left leg. What followed was a year of recuperation and eventually, further surgery to clean up his left knee and replace the rod in his femur. Toby has had very little time on any bike during 2017 and has only managed a couple of weeks riding on the new KTM 450 RALLY in its current form. Despite the lack of testing, the former Dakar winner is confident the new 450 can deliver another top result. “The bike has come on so much over the past 12 months,” said Price. “Even from the outside looking in you can see the new improvements and how it should suit the more technical sections in the rally. Over the long stages its weight and agility should make things far less fatiguing for the riders – it’s lost maybe 10 kilos during its development and you can definitely feel that when you are riding it. My first full test won’t come until the Dakar itself now, but you only have to look at the results from Morocco to see how strong the bike is and everyone in the team seems to enjoy riding it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what it can do.” Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Future7Media The Rally Dakar starts on January 6, 2018. Close to 200 bikes will set off into the Peruvian desert on the beginning of their 9,000 km journey that will hopefully see them to the finish at the Argentinian city of Cordoba. The KTM team of Sunderland, Walkner, Price, Meo, Sanz and Benavides will all be aiming to take the new KTM 450 RALLY to its maiden win, the 17th in a row for the Austrian manufacturer. KTM 450 RALLY SPECS ENGINE: Single cylinder, 4-stroke, 449.3cc ENGINE MANAGEMENT: Keihin EMS with electronic fuel injection TRANSMISSION: 6 gears, final drive 14:48, wet multi-disc clutch COOLING: Liquid cooled CHASSIS: Chromium molybdenum trellis steel frame, self-supporting carbon subframe SUSPENSION: 52 mm WP USD forks, WP shock absorber with linkage, 300 mm travel front and rear BRAKES: Front 300 mm, rear 240 mm Moto-Master SILENCER: Akrapovič, titanium FUEL CAPACITY: Approx. 31 liters WEIGHT: Approx. 138 kg (dry) [embedded content] Photos: Marcin Kin | Future7Media Video: GSP Media/KTM
  8. The KTM 450 RALLY – Unbeaten at the Dakar

    The KTM 450 RALLY – Unbeaten at the Dakar KTM has enjoyed no fewer than 16 consecutive Rally Dakar victories. Even since 2011, when rules changed and engine sizes were reduced to a maximum of 450cc in an effort to bring other manufacturers into the event, KTM have won every single race. With an all-new bike for 2018, KTM once again take to the start well-prepared, well-motivated and hoping to take win number 17 … KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin Following the move of the rally from Africa to South America in 2009, the routes and type of terrains used varied dramatically to the long, flat-out stages of the ‘original’ North African Dakar. In 2011 it was made compulsory for motorcycle engines to not exceed 450cc. This was advertised as ‘levelling the playing field’ for manufacturers in the hope of attracting different brands and with it possibly different winners. At this point KTM had already won the previous nine rallies. The other factor was safety, by reducing the capacity of the machines, overall speeds would be reduced with the bikes easier to handle during the arduous two-week event. Going into the 2011 Dakar, KTM had very little time to develop a specialized 450cc machine. Their solution was to fit a carbureted 450cc motocross engine into the chassis of their Dakar-winning 690 RALLY. Although somewhat crude, the bike was a success and took Marc Coma to his third win at the event. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY 2011 © Future7Media It wasn’t until 2014 that KTM released their first purpose-built 450 RALLY. The bike was designed around a new fuel-injected 450cc engine, the result of which was a far more agile machine. The 450 took Marc Coma to another victory and year-on-year has continued to dominate the Rally Dakar, right up to Sam Sunderland’s win in 2017. Despite their ongoing success, and not wanting to rest on their laurels, KTM already had plans for a newer, slimmer and faster machine. In development for over two years, the latest incarnation of the KTM 450 RALLY is the most capable yet. At first glance you can see the bike is slimmer and more maneuverable. Underneath the updated bodywork and fuel tanks are a whole host of other changes that have come together to create a winning machine. A new frame and swingarm instantly create a narrower bike, a slimmer feeling between the legs for the riders. The bike handles the more technical sections with ease due to the improved design and lighter weight – over 10 kg less than the previous model. The center of gravity on the bike is lower and has been pitched forward, aiding both stability and handling at speed. KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin The swingarm now sits on its pivot inside the rear of the main chassis, this creates a stiffer rear end and makes the bike less twitchy when ridden hard over the roughest terrain. The rear subframe is fully self-supported, manufactured from carbon, and incorporates one of the fuel tanks. In total, the bike carries approximately 31 liters when fully fueled. Up front, to balance the other changes to the chassis, huge 52 mm WP forks are fitted, another big improvement over the outgoing 48 mm versions. The bike keeps it standard size wheels – 21-inch up front and 18-inch on the rear, both shod with Michelin tires and mousses. Moto-Master brakes are fitted to slow down the bikes, mounted on the rear is a 240 mm disc while the front carries a massive 300 mm rotor. These provide enough stopping power to bring the bike to a standstill from speeds of over 180 km/h. KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin With the bike sporting an aggressive-looking black color scheme, Matthias Walkner took the new 450 to the win at the final round of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship in Morocco. It was Matthias’ first victory of the season and the Austrian attributed the success to an improved feeling on the new bike. “The new bike is a massive improvement,” told Matthias. “It feels much safer to ride, although faster at the same time. I think with the input of the younger riders, the bike has progressed a lot and suits the riding style of today. The old bike was a product of the racing as it used to be five or six years ago. Riders like Marc Coma and Jordi Viladoms, who were used to riding the larger capacity machines, perhaps had a different style to how we ride now. A lot of the new, younger riders, coming from a motocross background, prefer the lighter, sleeker feel of the new bike.” Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Future7Media To compliment the changes to the chassis, a new 450cc single-cylinder engine has been fitted. Not only providing better peak performance but also improved response. This is achieved by an all-new throttle body and engine management system. The bike is not only faster now but easier to ride at slower speeds when the going gets really tricky and the rider needs that added control. These combined advantages will really come into their own during an event like the Dakar. With competitors covering close to 9,000 km over 14 stages the race is tough on the rider as well as the machine. The new bike, being easier to ride fast over long distances and less of a handful in the slower, technical sections, will help riders stay fresh and focused. KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Marcin Kin Laia Sanz will be contesting her eighth Dakar in 2018. The Spanish multiple world enduro and trials champion feels the new 450 may suit her even more than the rest of the team. “I’m so happy riding the new bike,” explains Laia. “It felt so good In Morocco back in October at the OiLibya Rally. It’s not only lighter and faster but it’s more stable and that makes such a difference on the stages. When you hit an unexpected hole or jump the bike always stays straight and that is such a big improvement over the last bike. For me, I know I’m not as strong as some of the other guys in the team so to have a more nimble, lighter bike is perhaps even more important.” Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Future7Media 2016 Dakar winner, Toby Price has had a tough year. The Australian injured his leg during stage four of the 2017 Dakar – pushing hard to make up lost time, Toby came off his bike in a riverbed and fractured the thighbone on his left leg. What followed was a year of recuperation and eventually, further surgery to clean up his left knee and replace the rod in his femur. Toby has had very little time on any bike during 2017 and has only managed a couple of weeks riding on the new KTM 450 RALLY in its current form. Despite the lack of testing, the former Dakar winner is confident the new 450 can deliver another top result. “The bike has come on so much over the past 12 months,” said Price. “Even from the outside looking in you can see the new improvements and how it should suit the more technical sections in the rally. Over the long stages its weight and agility should make things far less fatiguing for the riders – it’s lost maybe 10 kilos during its development and you can definitely feel that when you are riding it. My first full test won’t come until the Dakar itself now, but you only have to look at the results from Morocco to see how strong the bike is and everyone in the team seems to enjoy riding it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what it can do.” Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Future7Media The Rally Dakar starts on January 6, 2018. Close to 200 bikes will set off into the Peruvian desert on the beginning of their 9,000 km journey that will hopefully see them to the finish at the Argentinian city of Cordoba. The KTM team of Sunderland, Walkner, Price, Meo, Sanz and Benavides will all be aiming to take the new KTM 450 RALLY to its maiden win, the 17th in a row for the Austrian manufacturer. KTM 450 RALLY SPECS ENGINE: Single cylinder, 4-stroke, 449.3cc ENGINE MANAGEMENT: Keihin EMS with electronic fuel injection TRANSMISSION: 6 gears, final drive 14:48, wet multi-disc clutch COOLING: Liquid cooled CHASSIS: Chromium molybdenum trellis steel frame, self-supporting carbon subframe SUSPENSION: 52 mm WP USD forks, WP shock absorber with linkage, 300 mm travel front and rear BRAKES: Front 300 mm, rear 240 mm Moto-Master SILENCER: Akrapovič, titanium FUEL CAPACITY: Approx. 31 liters WEIGHT: Approx. 138 kg (dry) [embedded content] Photos: Marcin Kin | Future7Media Video: GSP Media/KTM
  9. Sam Sunderland: The champion returns to Dakar

    Sam Sunderland: The champion returns to Dakar Winner of the 2017 Rally Dakar, Sam Sunderland has had a mixed season in this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. A title contender right up to the final round in Morocco, Sunderland endured a series of minor injuries and bad luck that eventually ruled him out of the running. Despite this, his pace throughout the year has been hugely impressive, with wins at the opening two rounds in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Sam heads into the 2018 Dakar as the man to beat. The KTM BLOG caught up with the 28-year-old Brit to discuss all things rally and the defence of his prized Dakar title … Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin Sam, you’re the reigning Dakar champion, how will your approach to this year’s event be different to last year´s? “Going into this Dakar is a lot different than last year. This year I’ve got the number one plate on my bike and last year I had never even managed to get a finish in the race. There is definitely some added pressure, but for me I’m going to approach it the same way as I normally do – take each day as it comes and try to stay safe, especially on the first week leading up to the rest day.” Who are your main competitors? “That’s such a difficult question. There is so much talent at the Dakar now, gone are the days when it was one or two guys who were fighting for the win. Having won a Dakar now I can relax a little I suppose, but I still know how hard I have to work to be competitive. At the start of the race there are so many talented guys who will be fighting for the win – multiple world champions from beach racing to enduro, to motocross. There are at least 10 guys with the capability of winning. Obviously, my teammates are going to be right up there – Toby Price is a previous Dakar winner, Antoine Meo – multiple world champion, Matthias Walkner ex MX3 and rally world champion. The Honda guys are fast and then you have to look at Pablo Quintanilla – world champion again this year but he’s never won a Dakar, he’s on form and hungrier than ever to take the win.” How do you prepare yourself for the Dakar? Do you start to feel the pressure build as the event gets closer? “On the run up to the Dakar you are under a lot of pressure, there are a lot of commitments with training, testing, media appointments. It can be hard to stay focused on the actual training and making the most of your time. This year the first week in Peru crosses the big dunes and should suit me really well, but I still like to get out training in the Dubai sand to stay sharp. Other than that, I like to go cycling, to work on my fitness and stamina, and I’ll do a little altitude training to prepare myself as best I can for that part of the rally in Bolivia. I try to get out on the motocross bike as often as possible, it’s good to train on the rally bike, but the motocross bike is slightly different and I really enjoy it. I figured if I am going to be riding rally for 10 years of my life, I have to try and enjoy it and getting out on the motocrosser is something I enjoy more than anything. It’s beneficial to my riding, but it’s also my passion. There is no better feeling than getting out into the dunes and sending it! Obviously, there won’t be any of that on the run up to the Dakar, it’s just way too risky, but when I have time there’s not much that I love more.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin Talking about bikes, how are you getting on with the new KTM 450 RALLY? “I’m loving the new bike. We were lucky to be able to put a lot of time on it in testing and then we had the race in Morocco. The guys did really well and the bike seems to be a massive improvement in terms of performance and handling. I’m really excited. It’s been such a huge amount of work and commitment for KTM. Even for the bosses to give the go-ahead for a project like this shows the faith they have in the team. I think that’s one of the reasons why KTM has won 16 years in a row now, they don’t just sit back and take things for granted, they are always pushing on with development and finding new ways to push performance on to the next level. A lot of hours have gone into the bike, not only by the team and riders, but by the designers, the engineers, everyone back in Austria and I’m really looking forward to taking it to the Dakar. Hopefully we will be able to reward all that hard work with a good result.” The team is certainly strong this year, but be honest, do you get along with everyone? Surely it can’t always be easy travelling and socializing with guys and girls you’re trying to beat! “I can get along with anybody, but within the team, the atmosphere is really good. There is such a deep amount of quality this year. We’ve got Toby Price who is a huge talent in offroad riding and a previous Dakar winner, Antoine Meo who is a five-time Enduro World Champion, Matthias Walkner, MX3 and rally world champion. Then there’s Luciano Benavides who is a new guy to the team, he’s young and has a lot to learn, but he’s still fast and full of motivation. Finally, there is Laia Sanz who is simply amazing, she really blows my mind. At the end of some of the long days when I’m feeling exhausted and down, I just need to look to her for inspiration because her attitude and pace are both incredible. It’s good that everyone’s treated the same, nobody is treated differently to anyone else. There is a huge amount of mutual respect for each other within the team and for what we’ve all achieved. At the start of the race, everyone is in with a chance of winning. There are no favorites within the team and I really like that.” Do you think riders somehow have it easier now, compared to when the event was run in Africa? “I don’t think the rally is any easier, certainly not the route. When the Dakar was held in Africa there were certainly less safety provisions in place – medical support wasn’t as good, hospitals, medical helicopters, etc. Now we’re in South America, the stages and the conditions are the toughest ever, especially when you factor in the weather and riding at altitude. When we’re off our bikes things are a little better now – back in the day the dudes were in tents so to be able to have campers to stay in is a huge improvement. I’m quite grateful that these days we have a nice place to sleep and you have the luxury of a shower every evening. Last year, Matthias and I shared a camper for the event and we finished first and second, so that was cool. Sometimes it is nice to have that camaraderie with your teammate and have someone close to discuss the day’s racing, it helps keep you both motivated. There are tense times too, times when one of you have been unable to get past the other, or maybe the other rider didn’t want to let you past and you had to ride in his dust for a few hundred kilometers. That can get a little weird when you are sharing a camper at the end of the day, but generally it’s all ok.” KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media What’s the toughest thing about the Dakar? “It has to be the length of the days. There are 14 days of riding this year and the longest day last year had us riding for 18 hours. To ride a bike for that long, even if you are just on the road, is tough. When you add in the other factors – heat, cold, terrain, altitude – it becomes way harder. That is the toughest thing, the accumulation of days like that, it has a snowball effect and the stress builds on your body and mind.” Is it possible to say that you enjoy Dakar? “There’s a balance – you have to put in long, hard days whether it be training, navigation work or fitness. Then come the races – some days are tough, really tough. If you asked me at the end of a 1,300 km stage in 45-degree heat when I’m hungry and dehydrated, ‘are you having a good time?’ I would probably say, well, I think you can guess the answer to that. But you have to put in that hard work to add value to the result at the finish. It’s the same with many things in life, the harder you have to work to achieve something the greater the feeling of accomplishment when you finally get there.” Finally, what are your expectations for this year’s event? “It’s like any sport, after a win it feels like only another win will do. When you finish fifth, then the next year you want to do better, maybe get a podium. For me now, I know that I’m capable of winning so that will always be my goal, and the goal of the team. At the same time, the Dakar is like no other race, so to get to the finish in itself is a massive achievement. This year I plan to do exactly what I did last year – stay consistent, fast and take each day as it comes. Hopefully the reward will be another win for myself and the team.” Sam will return to defend his Dakar title in 2018 when the rally starts in Peru from January 6. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin | Future7Media
  10. Sam Sunderland: The champion returns to Dakar Winner of the 2017 Rally Dakar, Sam Sunderland has had a mixed season in this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. A title contender right up to the final round in Morocco, Sunderland endured a series of minor injuries and bad luck that eventually ruled him out of the running. Despite this, his pace throughout the year has been hugely impressive, with wins at the opening two rounds in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Sam heads into the 2018 Dakar as the man to beat. The KTM BLOG caught up with the 28-year-old Brit to discuss all things rally and the defence of his prized Dakar title … Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin Sam, you’re the reigning Dakar champion, how will your approach to this year’s event be different to last year´s? “Going into this Dakar is a lot different than last year. This year I’ve got the number one plate on my bike and last year I had never even managed to get a finish in the race. There is definitely some added pressure, but for me I’m going to approach it the same way as I normally do – take each day as it comes and try to stay safe, especially on the first week leading up to the rest day.” Who are your main competitors? “That’s such a difficult question. There is so much talent at the Dakar now, gone are the days when it was one or two guys who were fighting for the win. Having won a Dakar now I can relax a little I suppose, but I still know how hard I have to work to be competitive. At the start of the race there are so many talented guys who will be fighting for the win – multiple world champions from beach racing to enduro, to motocross. There are at least 10 guys with the capability of winning. Obviously, my teammates are going to be right up there – Toby Price is a previous Dakar winner, Antoine Meo – multiple world champion, Matthias Walkner ex MX3 and rally world champion. The Honda guys are fast and then you have to look at Pablo Quintanilla – world champion again this year but he’s never won a Dakar, he’s on form and hungrier than ever to take the win.” How do you prepare yourself for the Dakar? Do you start to feel the pressure build as the event gets closer? “On the run up to the Dakar you are under a lot of pressure, there are a lot of commitments with training, testing, media appointments. It can be hard to stay focused on the actual training and making the most of your time. This year the first week in Peru crosses the big dunes and should suit me really well, but I still like to get out training in the Dubai sand to stay sharp. Other than that, I like to go cycling, to work on my fitness and stamina, and I’ll do a little altitude training to prepare myself as best I can for that part of the rally in Bolivia. I try to get out on the motocross bike as often as possible, it’s good to train on the rally bike, but the motocross bike is slightly different and I really enjoy it. I figured if I am going to be riding rally for 10 years of my life, I have to try and enjoy it and getting out on the motocrosser is something I enjoy more than anything. It’s beneficial to my riding, but it’s also my passion. There is no better feeling than getting out into the dunes and sending it! Obviously, there won’t be any of that on the run up to the Dakar, it’s just way too risky, but when I have time there’s not much that I love more.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin Talking about bikes, how are you getting on with the new KTM 450 RALLY? “I’m loving the new bike. We were lucky to be able to put a lot of time on it in testing and then we had the race in Morocco. The guys did really well and the bike seems to be a massive improvement in terms of performance and handling. I’m really excited. It’s been such a huge amount of work and commitment for KTM. Even for the bosses to give the go-ahead for a project like this shows the faith they have in the team. I think that’s one of the reasons why KTM has won 16 years in a row now, they don’t just sit back and take things for granted, they are always pushing on with development and finding new ways to push performance on to the next level. A lot of hours have gone into the bike, not only by the team and riders, but by the designers, the engineers, everyone back in Austria and I’m really looking forward to taking it to the Dakar. Hopefully we will be able to reward all that hard work with a good result.” The team is certainly strong this year, but be honest, do you get along with everyone? Surely it can’t always be easy travelling and socializing with guys and girls you’re trying to beat! “I can get along with anybody, but within the team, the atmosphere is really good. There is such a deep amount of quality this year. We’ve got Toby Price who is a huge talent in offroad riding and a previous Dakar winner, Antoine Meo who is a five-time Enduro World Champion, Matthias Walkner, MX3 and rally world champion. Then there’s Luciano Benavides who is a new guy to the team, he’s young and has a lot to learn, but he’s still fast and full of motivation. Finally, there is Laia Sanz who is simply amazing, she really blows my mind. At the end of some of the long days when I’m feeling exhausted and down, I just need to look to her for inspiration because her attitude and pace are both incredible. It’s good that everyone’s treated the same, nobody is treated differently to anyone else. There is a huge amount of mutual respect for each other within the team and for what we’ve all achieved. At the start of the race, everyone is in with a chance of winning. There are no favorites within the team and I really like that.” Do you think riders somehow have it easier now, compared to when the event was run in Africa? “I don’t think the rally is any easier, certainly not the route. When the Dakar was held in Africa there were certainly less safety provisions in place – medical support wasn’t as good, hospitals, medical helicopters, etc. Now we’re in South America, the stages and the conditions are the toughest ever, especially when you factor in the weather and riding at altitude. When we’re off our bikes things are a little better now – back in the day the dudes were in tents so to be able to have campers to stay in is a huge improvement. I’m quite grateful that these days we have a nice place to sleep and you have the luxury of a shower every evening. Last year, Matthias and I shared a camper for the event and we finished first and second, so that was cool. Sometimes it is nice to have that camaraderie with your teammate and have someone close to discuss the day’s racing, it helps keep you both motivated. There are tense times too, times when one of you have been unable to get past the other, or maybe the other rider didn’t want to let you past and you had to ride in his dust for a few hundred kilometers. That can get a little weird when you are sharing a camper at the end of the day, but generally it’s all ok.” KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media What’s the toughest thing about the Dakar? “It has to be the length of the days. There are 14 days of riding this year and the longest day last year had us riding for 18 hours. To ride a bike for that long, even if you are just on the road, is tough. When you add in the other factors – heat, cold, terrain, altitude – it becomes way harder. That is the toughest thing, the accumulation of days like that, it has a snowball effect and the stress builds on your body and mind.” Is it possible to say that you enjoy Dakar? “There’s a balance – you have to put in long, hard days whether it be training, navigation work or fitness. Then come the races – some days are tough, really tough. If you asked me at the end of a 1,300 km stage in 45-degree heat when I’m hungry and dehydrated, ‘are you having a good time?’ I would probably say, well, I think you can guess the answer to that. But you have to put in that hard work to add value to the result at the finish. It’s the same with many things in life, the harder you have to work to achieve something the greater the feeling of accomplishment when you finally get there.” Finally, what are your expectations for this year’s event? “It’s like any sport, after a win it feels like only another win will do. When you finish fifth, then the next year you want to do better, maybe get a podium. For me now, I know that I’m capable of winning so that will always be my goal, and the goal of the team. At the same time, the Dakar is like no other race, so to get to the finish in itself is a massive achievement. This year I plan to do exactly what I did last year – stay consistent, fast and take each day as it comes. Hopefully the reward will be another win for myself and the team.” Sam will return to defend his Dakar title in 2018 when the rally starts in Peru from January 6. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin | Future7Media
  11. ktm Life with a TPI

    Life with a TPI Posted in Bikes, Riding From the model launch at the iconic Erzberg mountain to racing the Erzbergrodeo itself this KTM 250 EXC TPI has had a tough life. The journey continued through national Enduro and extreme championship races, EnduroGP support race to a grueling three hour beach race. But away from these big events, what is this revolution in 2-stroke technology been like to live with and ride? KTM 250 EXC TPI © Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media This KTM 250 EXC TPI was one of the first to roll off the production lines in 2017. It has had a tough start to life as a press launch bike and then to become one of two TPI models first in competition anywhere in the world when raced at the Erzbergrodeo. It was a baptism for both rider and bike but one we both somehow stumbled out the other side from – albeit a little battle-scarred. With a mixture of excitement and intrigue, the KTM 250 EXC TPI made its way to my garage a week later. Thousands of kilometers away from the watchful eyes of KTM it felt like I’d stolen a baby in those first weeks. I had a pretty unique bike to poke, prod or pull it apart. All I really wanted to do though was ride it. Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media Determined to put the new TPI engine through a strong test that’s exactly what I’ve done to try and ride it in different terrain and conditions. Hot and cold temperatures, different altitudes and fast and slow races. It has been no half measure. Through these events, it has been down to me to maintain and prep the bike. Yes, it is a press bike but KTM hasn’t touched it since leaving Mattighofen. I’m the one changing the oil, checking the plug gap, cleaning the air filters, changing the tires and oiling the chain. Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media Day-to-day living with the KTM 250 EXC TPI really has proved no different to any KTM with all components other than the TPI engine matching the 2017 250 EXC model. The only other person to touch it in that time was my local KTM dealer who installed the updated software into the control unit. No carburetor means the whole fuel system is more water-tight and less problematic and I’m enjoying not having to worry about water or dirt getting in the carb or think about jetting for different events. It is obviously easier not having to pre-mix fuel too – the oil catch tank has been robust – plus the TPI engine takes on fuel and oil like Scrooge gives out coal. It’s been fascinating learning how the TPI engine works compared to both a carbureted 2-stroke and a FI 4-stroke. I’m finding it climbs hills better than a carbureted 250. Rather than being responsive in just certain parts of the rev-range, the TPI responds consistently through the rev-range. For me that is a benefit – in any gear at any revs and at any speed the throttle does what I expect it too much like an FI 4-stroke. For sure it feels ‘leaner’ up the very top of the revs but with Erzberg as a measure that hasn’t held it or me back on a hill. I’m riding technical sections at slow speeds with less clutch and more trust in the throttle and as a result I’m stalling less often. Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Future7Media After three hours of the impossibly tough Weston Beach Race I was expecting a list of parts to replace as long as my arm but got exactly the opposite – one utterly worn out set of rear brake pads and a new chain spring clip plus fresh oil and a filter, a top-up of the coolant and that was it. After all that hard work how did the clutch look? Fine. I might even replace the grips soon. Most recently of all I’ve had the WP Xplor fork and shock absorber serviced after 30-plus hours of racing. The results were unbelievable after all that riding the oil and seals were near perfect especially inside the forks looked fresh. Only the shock absorber oil had begun to change color slightly but after such a hard life who could blame it. Photos: Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media
  12. Life with a TPI

    Life with a TPI Posted in Bikes, Riding From the model launch at the iconic Erzberg mountain to racing the Erzbergrodeo itself this KTM 250 EXC TPI has had a tough life. The journey continued through national Enduro and extreme championship races, EnduroGP support race to a grueling three hour beach race. But away from these big events, what is this revolution in 2-stroke technology been like to live with and ride? KTM 250 EXC TPI © Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media This KTM 250 EXC TPI was one of the first to roll off the production lines in 2017. It has had a tough start to life as a press launch bike and then to become one of two TPI models first in competition anywhere in the world when raced at the Erzbergrodeo. It was a baptism for both rider and bike but one we both somehow stumbled out the other side from – albeit a little battle-scarred. With a mixture of excitement and intrigue, the KTM 250 EXC TPI made its way to my garage a week later. Thousands of kilometers away from the watchful eyes of KTM it felt like I’d stolen a baby in those first weeks. I had a pretty unique bike to poke, prod or pull it apart. All I really wanted to do though was ride it. Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media Determined to put the new TPI engine through a strong test that’s exactly what I’ve done to try and ride it in different terrain and conditions. Hot and cold temperatures, different altitudes and fast and slow races. It has been no half measure. Through these events, it has been down to me to maintain and prep the bike. Yes, it is a press bike but KTM hasn’t touched it since leaving Mattighofen. I’m the one changing the oil, checking the plug gap, cleaning the air filters, changing the tires and oiling the chain. Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media Day-to-day living with the KTM 250 EXC TPI really has proved no different to any KTM with all components other than the TPI engine matching the 2017 250 EXC model. The only other person to touch it in that time was my local KTM dealer who installed the updated software into the control unit. No carburetor means the whole fuel system is more water-tight and less problematic and I’m enjoying not having to worry about water or dirt getting in the carb or think about jetting for different events. It is obviously easier not having to pre-mix fuel too – the oil catch tank has been robust – plus the TPI engine takes on fuel and oil like Scrooge gives out coal. It’s been fascinating learning how the TPI engine works compared to both a carbureted 2-stroke and a FI 4-stroke. I’m finding it climbs hills better than a carbureted 250. Rather than being responsive in just certain parts of the rev-range, the TPI responds consistently through the rev-range. For me that is a benefit – in any gear at any revs and at any speed the throttle does what I expect it too much like an FI 4-stroke. For sure it feels ‘leaner’ up the very top of the revs but with Erzberg as a measure that hasn’t held it or me back on a hill. I’m riding technical sections at slow speeds with less clutch and more trust in the throttle and as a result I’m stalling less often. Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Future7Media After three hours of the impossibly tough Weston Beach Race I was expecting a list of parts to replace as long as my arm but got exactly the opposite – one utterly worn out set of rear brake pads and a new chain spring clip plus fresh oil and a filter, a top-up of the coolant and that was it. After all that hard work how did the clutch look? Fine. I might even replace the grips soon. Most recently of all I’ve had the WP Xplor fork and shock absorber serviced after 30-plus hours of racing. The results were unbelievable after all that riding the oil and seals were near perfect especially inside the forks looked fresh. Only the shock absorber oil had begun to change color slightly but after such a hard life who could blame it. Photos: Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media
  13. ktm 2018 Dakar Route

    2018 Dakar Route Posted in Racing, Riding Mountainous sand dunes. Extreme altitude. Unpredictable weather. Punishing distances. The 2018 Dakar route looks set to be the toughest ever. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin In recent years the Rally Dakar has found its home in South America. But, as the name suggests, that’s not always been the case. The Rally Dakar was born in 1978, taking competitors from Paris, France over 10,000 km through the deserts of Africa to the finish at the famous Lac Rose near Dakar, Senegal. 182 vehicles set off from the French capital on that inaugural trip, 74 of them completed their journey. The event grew steadily through the 80s and 90s and in 2005 a record 688 competitors entered the rally. In 2008 the event was due to depart from Lisbon, as it had the previous two years. But a terrorist attack in Mauritania late in 2007, in which five French tourists were attacked, caused massive concerns for the organizers. As such the 2008 event was cancelled, creating doubts for the continuing future of the world’s toughest rally. All was not lost, obviously, with the countries of Chile and Argentina stepping forward to host the event in 2009. The Dakar name remained but the event has been held in South America ever since. KTM continued their winning streak, despite the change of venue, and as of the 2017 Dakar, their run of consecutive victories stands at 16. Matthias Walkner (AUT, #16), Sam Sunderland (GBR, #14) & Gerard Farres Guell (ESP, #8) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Rally Zone For 2018, the Dakar will cover the three countries of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Each country will offer competitors dramatically different terrain – from the sand dunes of Peru, over the mountains of Bolivia to the fast tracks and riverbeds in the heat of Argentina. Rally Dakar Route 2018 © www.dakar.com Peru After being included in the Rally Dakar for the first time in 2012, and then hosting the opening ceremony in 2013, Peru has been absent from the program ever since. The Peruvian government voiced their desire to be part of the rally again at the end of the 2017 event and after working closely with the organizers, ASO, they have made it happen. Peru will host the opening six stages, which throw competitors straight into the sand dunes of the Peruvian desert. It will be tough from the outset for the riders as the bikes are often first onto each stage. The difficulties of navigating the deep sand and tall dunes will only add to their fatigue. “I think a lot of the riders have missed the sand over the last couple of years, but after a week in Peru everyone will be sick of it again,” jokes Laia Sanz. Stage five, which travels from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, will really test the competitors’ stamina and navigation skills. The total stage distance is a grueling 770 km, 264 km of which is timed special stage. The bikes and quads will take a separate route to the cars and trucks. Starting at daybreak, the stage takes in 30 km of huge, mountainous dunes. Accurate navigation and the ability to read the terrain will be vital to not only getting a good result, but safely reaching the finish. On Thursday, January 11, stage six has competitors leave Arequipa in Peru and head to the world’s highest capital city of La Paz in Bolivia. The stage is another long one, covering a total of 758 km and will leave the desert before climbing to an altitude of 2,500 m at the Bolivian Altiplano. Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin Bolivia The biggest challenge of racing in Bolivia is the altitude. The rest day on Friday, January 12, is held in the capital, La Paz, sitting at a staggering 3,640 m above sea level. Even after having a day off to rest and acclimatize to the conditions, travelling through Bolivia is going to be tough. Part of the challenge is overcoming the extra fatigue that is caused by racing at such high altitudes – the level of oxygen is less than that at a lower level. It’s because of this that riders like to train at altitude on the run up to the Dakar, many choosing to ski and exercise in the mountains of Europe before the final trip to South America in January. “Winter training is important because every rider needs to work on slightly different things. I like to get as much time on the bike as I can but often look at different techniques during the winter such as hiking at altitude, which is really good for fitness,” comments Matthias Walkner. Stage seven of the rally leaves La Paz and heads for the city of Uyuni. The first of the all-Bolivian stages will offer a new backdrop for the teams and is the first half of the initial marathon stage. Again, good navigation will be required but also vigilance on the difficult tracks leading to Uyuni. After a total of 726 km in the saddle, riders will reach the camp where they will stay for the night. All bike maintenance must be carried out by themselves – no team assistance is allowed. The second part of the marathon stage includes the longest special stage of the rally. A timed 498 km route faces the riders, which covers sand dunes at over 3,500 m above sea level. This stage will really set apart the strongest from the rest of the field before going into the final six days’ racing. If things weren’t tough enough already, one of the additional challenges of Bolivia is the weather. At such high altitudes changes in conditions can be dramatic and happen extremely quickly, adding to the difficulty faced by the now exhausted competitors. “When you add in factors like heat, cold, terrain and altitude it all becomes way harder. That is the toughest thing, the accumulation of days like that, it has a snowball effect and the stress builds on your body and mind,” explains Sam Sunderland. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin Argentina The fast tracks and rivers of Argentina have become legendary since the Dakar crossed continents to South America. The treacherous terrain combined with unforgiving heat not only makes it tough for the competitors but also increases the chances of making a mistake. By this point in the rally, riders will have covered close to 5,000 km – their bodies will be tired, and so will their minds. One of the key factors in completing a successful Dakar is minimizing mistakes during the event. Faced with difficult terrain and tough navigation, those mistakes will become all too easy to make for even the most experienced of Dakar regulars. The bikes and quads will enjoy a second marathon stage in Argentina. Again, no assistance is allowed when the riders camp out after the 484 km, stage 11. Part of the skill when riding these marathon stages is not only conserving your energy but also conserving the bike. “… you have to ride a little more carefully so you don’t crash and damage the bike, because if you break something it could be the end of your race,” adds Laia Sanz. After returning from their second marathon stage, the competitors will only have the final two days left to ride. However, January’s stage 13 on Friday 19 will be one of the toughest of the event. Now completely exhausted, the riders will face a 904 km stage that includes 423 km of timed special. Covering the sand dunes of San Juan, the terrain will be incredibly energy sapping especially after nearly two weeks of riding. The leaders will be trying to make up good time here while still riding sensibly – a retirement this close to the finish would be soul-destroying. The final stage on the outskirts of Cordoba although short at 284 km will still be difficult with riders having to cross around 30 rivers on the way to the chequered flag. Competitors will have to stay focused right to the end in order to successfully complete the rally. “The Dakar is like no other race, so to get to the finish in itself is a massive achievement. This year I plan to do exactly what I did last year, stay consistent, fast and take each day as it comes. Hopefully it will reward myself and the team with another win,” offers 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin The 2018 Dakar in numbers: 3 countries 14 stages 2 marathon stages for bikes and quads 5 days at altitudes of over 3,000 m Close to 9,000 km total distance, 4,500 of which are timed specials Photos: Marcin Kin | Rally Zone | www.dakar.com
  14. 2018 Dakar Route

    2018 Dakar Route Posted in Racing, Riding Mountainous sand dunes. Extreme altitude. Unpredictable weather. Punishing distances. The 2018 Dakar route looks set to be the toughest ever. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin In recent years the Rally Dakar has found its home in South America. But, as the name suggests, that’s not always been the case. The Rally Dakar was born in 1978, taking competitors from Paris, France over 10,000 km through the deserts of Africa to the finish at the famous Lac Rose near Dakar, Senegal. 182 vehicles set off from the French capital on that inaugural trip, 74 of them completed their journey. The event grew steadily through the 80s and 90s and in 2005 a record 688 competitors entered the rally. In 2008 the event was due to depart from Lisbon, as it had the previous two years. But a terrorist attack in Mauritania late in 2007, in which five French tourists were attacked, caused massive concerns for the organizers. As such the 2008 event was cancelled, creating doubts for the continuing future of the world’s toughest rally. All was not lost, obviously, with the countries of Chile and Argentina stepping forward to host the event in 2009. The Dakar name remained but the event has been held in South America ever since. KTM continued their winning streak, despite the change of venue, and as of the 2017 Dakar, their run of consecutive victories stands at 16. Matthias Walkner (AUT, #16), Sam Sunderland (GBR, #14) & Gerard Farres Guell (ESP, #8) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Rally Zone For 2018, the Dakar will cover the three countries of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Each country will offer competitors dramatically different terrain – from the sand dunes of Peru, over the mountains of Bolivia to the fast tracks and riverbeds in the heat of Argentina. Rally Dakar Route 2018 © www.dakar.com Peru After being included in the Rally Dakar for the first time in 2012, and then hosting the opening ceremony in 2013, Peru has been absent from the program ever since. The Peruvian government voiced their desire to be part of the rally again at the end of the 2017 event and after working closely with the organizers, ASO, they have made it happen. Peru will host the opening six stages, which throw competitors straight into the sand dunes of the Peruvian desert. It will be tough from the outset for the riders as the bikes are often first onto each stage. The difficulties of navigating the deep sand and tall dunes will only add to their fatigue. “I think a lot of the riders have missed the sand over the last couple of years, but after a week in Peru everyone will be sick of it again,” jokes Laia Sanz. Stage five, which travels from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, will really test the competitors’ stamina and navigation skills. The total stage distance is a grueling 770 km, 264 km of which is timed special stage. The bikes and quads will take a separate route to the cars and trucks. Starting at daybreak, the stage takes in 30 km of huge, mountainous dunes. Accurate navigation and the ability to read the terrain will be vital to not only getting a good result, but safely reaching the finish. On Thursday, January 11, stage six has competitors leave Arequipa in Peru and head to the world’s highest capital city of La Paz in Bolivia. The stage is another long one, covering a total of 758 km and will leave the desert before climbing to an altitude of 2,500 m at the Bolivian Altiplano. Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin Bolivia The biggest challenge of racing in Bolivia is the altitude. The rest day on Friday, January 12, is held in the capital, La Paz, sitting at a staggering 3,640 m above sea level. Even after having a day off to rest and acclimatize to the conditions, travelling through Bolivia is going to be tough. Part of the challenge is overcoming the extra fatigue that is caused by racing at such high altitudes – the level of oxygen is less than that at a lower level. It’s because of this that riders like to train at altitude on the run up to the Dakar, many choosing to ski and exercise in the mountains of Europe before the final trip to South America in January. “Winter training is important because every rider needs to work on slightly different things. I like to get as much time on the bike as I can but often look at different techniques during the winter such as hiking at altitude, which is really good for fitness,” comments Matthias Walkner. Stage seven of the rally leaves La Paz and heads for the city of Uyuni. The first of the all-Bolivian stages will offer a new backdrop for the teams and is the first half of the initial marathon stage. Again, good navigation will be required but also vigilance on the difficult tracks leading to Uyuni. After a total of 726 km in the saddle, riders will reach the camp where they will stay for the night. All bike maintenance must be carried out by themselves – no team assistance is allowed. The second part of the marathon stage includes the longest special stage of the rally. A timed 498 km route faces the riders, which covers sand dunes at over 3,500 m above sea level. This stage will really set apart the strongest from the rest of the field before going into the final six days’ racing. If things weren’t tough enough already, one of the additional challenges of Bolivia is the weather. At such high altitudes changes in conditions can be dramatic and happen extremely quickly, adding to the difficulty faced by the now exhausted competitors. “When you add in factors like heat, cold, terrain and altitude it all becomes way harder. That is the toughest thing, the accumulation of days like that, it has a snowball effect and the stress builds on your body and mind,” explains Sam Sunderland. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin Argentina The fast tracks and rivers of Argentina have become legendary since the Dakar crossed continents to South America. The treacherous terrain combined with unforgiving heat not only makes it tough for the competitors but also increases the chances of making a mistake. By this point in the rally, riders will have covered close to 5,000 km – their bodies will be tired, and so will their minds. One of the key factors in completing a successful Dakar is minimizing mistakes during the event. Faced with difficult terrain and tough navigation, those mistakes will become all too easy to make for even the most experienced of Dakar regulars. The bikes and quads will enjoy a second marathon stage in Argentina. Again, no assistance is allowed when the riders camp out after the 484 km, stage 11. Part of the skill when riding these marathon stages is not only conserving your energy but also conserving the bike. “… you have to ride a little more carefully so you don’t crash and damage the bike, because if you break something it could be the end of your race,” adds Laia Sanz. After returning from their second marathon stage, the competitors will only have the final two days left to ride. However, January’s stage 13 on Friday 19 will be one of the toughest of the event. Now completely exhausted, the riders will face a 904 km stage that includes 423 km of timed special. Covering the sand dunes of San Juan, the terrain will be incredibly energy sapping especially after nearly two weeks of riding. The leaders will be trying to make up good time here while still riding sensibly – a retirement this close to the finish would be soul-destroying. The final stage on the outskirts of Cordoba although short at 284 km will still be difficult with riders having to cross around 30 rivers on the way to the chequered flag. Competitors will have to stay focused right to the end in order to successfully complete the rally. “The Dakar is like no other race, so to get to the finish in itself is a massive achievement. This year I plan to do exactly what I did last year, stay consistent, fast and take each day as it comes. Hopefully it will reward myself and the team with another win,” offers 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2017 © Marcin Kin The 2018 Dakar in numbers: 3 countries 14 stages 2 marathon stages for bikes and quads 5 days at altitudes of over 3,000 m Close to 9,000 km total distance, 4,500 of which are timed specials Photos: Marcin Kin | Rally Zone | www.dakar.com
  15. ICE RACING IN 1935

    In the 1930s, Husqvarna dominated the Swedish ice-racing scene. Riders such as Ragnar Sunnqvist, Ivar Skeppstedt and Martin Strömberg took to the frozen lakes on Husky 350cc and 500cc machines equipped with lethal-looking spiked tyres. To the cheers of thousands of spectators these men were the gladiators of their time, racing hard in some of the toughest conditions. Ice racing on studded tyres has always been popular in Sweden. It started in the twenties and there were already many famous events to choose from. In the mid-thirties, Husqvarna played a major role in races on the slippery frozen surface. The leading man in the festivities was Ragnar Sunnqvist, he rode for his private Husqvarna team as the factory had stopped supporting their riders at the time, but races were still won on the successful brand. Vallentuna, outside Stockholm, was the initial event for a new private team, Scuderia Husqvarna. The factory had withdrawn their official racing support, so Husqvarna’s new fate was established through private interests. It was February, it was cold and the lake had been frozen for quite a while when riders gathered to race in two classes. On February 17th in 1935, the event set off in super-windy conditions at a temperature of minus 15 degrees Celsius. Despite the temperature some 15,000 spectators came to watch, hardened people who didn't mind getting cold during the day. The track consisted of many curves with one long straight, this was odd for an ice race. The start time was set at one o'clock, and the first heat was ready to get away with riders at the start line, engines running. Husqvarna entered with several machines, all on studded tyres with centimetre-long spikes moulded into the rubber. In order to race on the slippery surface, there had to be lots of spikes in each tire. In fact, there were more than six Husky bikes on the starting line which consisted of motorcycles from two separate classes; the 500cc C-class and the 350 cc B-class. Most Huskys were twin-cylinder, but there was also a single-cylinder 350cc ridden by ace Rolf Gülich. The twin-cylinders were a bit rough at the start as they were manufactured to be bump-started - turning the engine to fire up. That meant the first gear was very high, which made the Husqvarnas slow to get away when the flag was dropped. Dancing on the ice began with riders charging hard from the start. One of the competitors, the legendary Ivar Skeppstedt, missed the second corner and rode straight into the snow-wall. He did recover, but was a bit behind, pushing hard to make up lost time. The race was over 10 laps and the length of the track was four kilometres long. The track was covered in snow, which whirled in the wind, making visibility non-existent. The studded tires bit into the ice, blasting clouds of tiny frozen drops in the air. This was not only a rider problem, as the crowd also had trouble seeing much of the action. However, with 20 riders active on the circuit the battle went on, regardless of each individual’s impression. At least, nobody was in the need of a Sherpa showing the way. As had happened many times before, Ragnar Sunnqvist took the lead of the field, having no problems whatsoever seeing where he was heading. Husky rider Skeppstedt was soon on Sunnqvist's heels despite his previous mistake and in third spot lay Arnold Linder, also Husqvarna-mounted. Then Sunnqvist had to make a stop to clean his wires and spark-plugs, due to them being clogged with snow. A new rider by the name of Larsson now took the lead, but he took a shortcut due to bad visibility and was consequently disqualified from the race. Then something happened, the wind dropped and all the riders suddenly had a clear view of the track. In the big C-class Skeppstedt managed to pass his fellow Husqvarna competitor, Sunnqvist - the latter suffering with a misfiring engine. This made the ace-rider lose more and more ground to the leader which couldn’t be recovered. Instead, Ivar Skeppstedt took his Husqvarna to the overall victory, five seconds ahead of team-mate Arnold Linder. Husqvarna's third man over the finish line was Ragnar Sunnqvist, almost a minute behind the winner. Husqvarna took all three places on the podium and received all the accolades from a cheering crowd. In the B-class, Husqvarna also managed a triple podium. First to take the flag was Martin Strömberg, while Arthur Olsson and Carl Bagenholm followed in pursuit, around half a minute behind the first man. It was a remarkable day, with chilly weather and hot, hot races – perfect for the ultrafast and reliable Husqvarna machines!
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