2016 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Riders
The 38th edition of the Dakar Rally is set for South America in two weeks, and one team is mentally preparing to earn a 15th title – the Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team.
The 2016 rally team met at Austria’s headquarters of KISKA in Salzburg for a pre-event presentation with its rider lineup for 2016 Dakar – Austria’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Matthias Walkner; the most-experienced Dakar rider with nine rallies, Jordi Viladoms; Enduro 2 World Champion Antoine Meo, who competes in his first Rally; Spanish rider Laia Sanz, who wants to follow up her impressive top 10-finish in 2015 with another top result on her KTM 450 RALLY; and Toby Price.
Walkner’s teammate, Sam Sunderland, will not compete at the 2016 Dakar due to fracturing his femur during training after the final 2015 Rally in Morocco. The retiring Marc Coma, who won his fifth Dakar Rally in 2015, will still be involved, the Spaniard acting as Sports Director of the 2016 Dakar Rally.
Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Pre-Dakar Quotes:
Pit Beirer (KTM Motorsport Director): “Marc Coma already surprised us in the summer with his decision to take on the role of Sports Director of the Dakar Rally. After all, he was the clear number one among the top riders, and right behind him were our so-called young guns. But they immediately understood their new mission in the first rally after Coma’s announcement and were equal to the competition. Now I believe we can expect a very exciting rally to launch our motorsports season.”
Heinz Kinigadner (KTM Motorsport Consultant): “I am convinced that we already have a worthy follower in our team. For example, our Australian Toby Price immediately took a podium place in his first Dakar last year. Now we’ve run the factory team at the rally for more than 20 years, I also believe that for the first time we have a good chance of having an Austrian up with the leaders in 2016.”
Matthias Walkner: “Naturally there is a certain expectation from my side, which in the first place I have satisfy. I’ve prepared myself very well this time. Last year, for example, I was ready for the big race after only one week. This year I’ve been preparing for the Dakar since the final rally in Morocco and I haven’t finished yet. I really had an unexpectedly good season but that doesn’t mean that as world champion I will automatically be on the podium. If I manage to finish the two weeks and more than 9,000 km more or less with no problems, then somewhere between places five and three is quite realistic.”
The Dakar Rally 2016 starts on Saturday, January 2, in Buenos Aires and finishes two weeks later after 13 stages in the Argentine city of Rosario after a big sweep through both Argentina and Bolivia.