KTM’s new twin leads Dakar into stage 10

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KTM’s new 950cc LC8 V-twin was leading the Dakar Rally as the field set off on stage 10 on Monday morning.

This year’s event is one of the biggest ever – with 170 bikes starting. For the first time in years there were more bikes than cars starting.

British interest is not the same as in previous years following the death of John Deacon last year – he was the only British rider who would have ridden a factory machine for BMW.

The highest-placed British rider into Sunday’s rest day was veteran Dave Hammond who was lying in 20th overall.

The KTM LC8 machine is Austrian manufacturer KTM’s bid to not only dominate the rally scene but also to form the basis of road machines like the Ducati Monster-style bike seen in MCN two weeks ago.

It seems to be working. In the hands of Italian and 2001 winner Fabrizio Meoni the massive LC8 machine was able to claw it’s way to the front – helped mainly by some of the long, flat-out sections in the middle of last week where the 125mph top speed of the V-twin helped.

Meoni said: ” For the first few days the bike was just too big and heavy compared to the others to show much of an advantage but once the desert became flatter the bike was so fast I made up lots of time and places. Going across the desert at that speed is amazing – you can’t relax but it is so much easier than going across the dunes. ”

The LC8 managed an average speed of 85mph over a 300 mile stage – enough to give Meoni a two minute lead over a gaggle of KTM’s behind him. Only two of the V-twin machines have been entered – the rest are single-cylinder LC4 bikes with KTM making the biggest effort of all to win the title.

The rally started on December 28 in Arras, France and ends in Dakar on January 13.

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff