Dakar is coming! The world’s top rally teams are gearing up for their assault on the Saudi Arabian desert in early January, and now KTM and Husqvarna have just announced new bikes for this year’s race.
Unfortunately, due to the hush-hush nature of high-level racing, we know very little about the new bikes. Obviously, they’re liquid-cooled 450 singles, and basically the same machine, since KTM and Husqvarna are both owned by Pierer AG.
In its press release announcing its 2022 rally raid team, KTM said the new machine has been under development for two years:
The result of over two years’ development, and with the close cooperation of KTM Technologies, KTM’s R&D department, and KISKA along with KTM Motorsports, the all-new 2022 KTM 450 RALLY will make its first competitive outing in Morocco. With new bodywork, a new engine, a new frame, and many other upgrades and improvements over the current model, the state-of-the-art rally machine will continue to undergo testing and evaluation at the Rallye du Maroc, under the expert control of Sam Sunderland, Toby Price, and Kevin Benavides.
With the Morocco Rally currently underway, KTM’s squad is going to analyze their new machine and hopefully have all the necessary tweaks performed before Dakar opens racing on January 2.
The promo photos of the new machine don’t show us much, only confirming there’s new bodywork and a new chassis (a beam-style frame, it looks like). The real test will be in the desert sands.
Interestingly, GasGas did not announce any changes to its 450 rally bike. GasGas is increasingly tied to Husqvarna and KTM’s rally raid programs as it’s also part of the Pierer AG umbrella; with Laia Sanz recently announcing her retirement, will the red-painted bikes retire from the 2022 event, with remaining rider Daniel Sanders shuffled to another team? Seems unlikely, but so does the idea of racing an outdated machine at this year’s rally … unless the top minds in the organization deem that somehow necessary as part of their rider or bike development process.