We’re about to witness the start of the 41st Dakar Rally in Peru, the country that will see all the action of the 2019 Dakar after Argentina, Chile and even Bolivia decided they didn’t want to host the event this year. This year is the first time ever the Dakar will be run only in one country, but that doesn’t mean riders will have their life made easier. And the question remains: Is anyone capable of stopping KTM?
This year’s event is just a ten days’ race, with ASO, the event organizers, opting to give the competitors a menu filled with sand dunes. In fact, 70% of the ten stages will be held in this type of terrain, which will make life harder for the motorbike competitors. And as such, results are as unpredictable as ever!
Unlike the usual 14 days of competition, the 2019 Dakar will have just 10 days, with a total of 3000 km against the clock and requiring a lot of navigation skills from riders. From these 10 stages, two of them will be marathon style stages, meaning riders will have no technical assistance from their teams, and won’t be able to use anything outside the bivouac to fix their bikes.
On the bikes, KTM is the main contender to get the desired win, and the Austrian manufacturer has its main names ready to get an unprecedented 18th consecutive win on the Dakar Rally. KTM has brought the winners of the last three editions of the Dakar to Peru – Toby Price, Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland – and they hope Honda hasn’t got what it takes to get the win this year.
The Japanese manufacturer has reinforced its technical structure and Spanish rider Joan Barreda Bort and Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves are the main threats to the KTM armada. But things aren’t looking good for Honda right from the start. Joan “Bang Bang” Barreda has been recovering from injury most of second part of 2018, so he lacks the rhythm, while Paulo “Speedy” Gonçalves had a surgery in the beginning of December, to remove his spleen following a crash in the final event of the Portuguese Rally Raid trophy, so he isn’t at 100% fitness.
Yamaha will also have a factory team, but the Iwata factory hasn’t shown the consistency to be able to fight with KTM and Honda. They’ve managed to secure some stage wins in recent years, but they start the 2019 Dakar a little behind their main rivals.
KTM hasn’t lost a single Dakar Rally since 2000, when Richard Sainct won the event for BMW Motorrad.
So, is KTM going to keep its winning streak? Or is anyone able to beat KTM?
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