With a little over three weeks left until the 2012 Dakar rally starts, teams are down to the nitty-gritty of preparation.
KTM, as usual, is the team to beat in this year’s rally, which runs again in South America. Last year’s champion Marc Coma has been running tests in the Moroccan desert with his support rider, making sure his 450 Rally is set up perfectly.
KTM convincingly took first and second spots last year with the 450 Rally, but they weren’t content to rest on their laurels; they’ve been tweaking the bike since last year’s victorious debut, and it should be interesting to see if the other manufacturers are going to field competitive machines, or if they’ll still be in KTM’s dust.
One company that’s trying hard to dethrone KTM is Husqvarna. They’ve taken design elements from the Husqvarna TE449 and BMW G450X to build the TE449 RR. They’ve joined forces with the Speedbrain rally team to send five bikes to the Dakar race this year.
The machine is unproven at the Dakar race, but you can bet KTM is watching them closely. Husqvarna has proven they can build off-roaders that can win short races like supermotos and enduros. If their machines can hold up to the brutality of Dakar, the playing field could become level again.