KTM Restructures Factory Rally Team – Despres Departs

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Marc Coma

2013 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Rally Team

The Austrian-based KTM, which has won the last 12 consecutive Dakar Rally races, has restructured its factory rally team for 2013.

The biggest change on the team, which will now use the name Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, is the departure of five-time Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres. KTM reported that the Frenchman, who had won this year’s Dakar Rally, has moved on to face new challenges.

Pit Beirer (Head of KTM Motorsports) says: “His exemplary achievements are recognized throughout the world of motorsports and he will always be part of the history of our company. We thank him for his contribution and I join with everyone at KTM Motorsports and our entire company to wish him well for his chosen future.”

Though there’s no official announcement, Despres is supposedly talking with Honda.

With Despres gone, there was room for one more rider. And the man who will take the position is the American Kurt Caselli. Caselli, KTM’s offroad specialist and US factory rider, filled in for the injured Marc Coma in 2013 Dakar, delivering an impressive performance. He finished 31st overall, and won two stage victories.

Joining Caselli on the 2013 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team’s three-rider lineup will be Coma, and Ruben Faria. Also present will be Chilean rider Francesco “Chaleco” Lopez who will be supported with a full factory package. Lopez will be competing on the same factory rally machine as the other three riders, KTM reports.

Pit Beirer says: “Just as we always look to the future by constantly developing our rally bikes, we must also do that same with the structure of our factory team. It is essential to evolve, to engage new talent and have the kind of balance and harmony essential for the smooth operation of the team in extreme circumstances like the Dakar Rally.

“We want to capitalize on the immense experience and talent of riders like Marc Coma, but also need to take advantage of those of ambitious up-and-coming riders like Caselli, Faria and Lopez.”

Three-time Dakar winner Coma was unable to compete in this year’s Dakar due to a shoulder injury sustained in a crash at the Morocco Rally. KTM reports he is now fit and is preparing to defend his World Championship Cross Country Rally title starting with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (April 4-11).

He and his now former teammate Despres between them have dominated the Dakar, winning a total of eight titles of KTM’s 12 consecutive wins in what is certainly the world’s toughest rally. Portuguese rider Ruben Faria, long time support rider to Despres enjoyed a very successful 2013 Dakar in his own right, finishing overall second, including a stage victory, KTM says.

The popular Chilean Lopez was in great form on a KTM 450 Rally bike in the 2013 edition, finishing overall third with four stage victories.

Pit Beirer says: “We must invest in new talent, just as we invest in new technology and I am confident that with the new team structure we will continue to play a dominant role in rally sport.”


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