So, what is your question good for if you go ahead and answer it by yourself?!
A few thoughts;
This is, again, the dawn of a new era
- 450s will rule Dakar next year. It is also a time when the current master, KTM, is rather weak: their tried and tested platform is ruled out and they don't have tons of cash to throw around. This is the time when other manufacturers can come up to the table and claim their share of the cake.
If KTM stays in
, with a proper factory effort and re-signing Coma and Despres, I don't see them building a sleeved-down version of the current LC4 RR or a 450 version of the new 690. The 690RR looks like a monster compared to the nimble 450s and a future-orientated effort should be based on the EXC line. I'm sure KTM can work on the current engines to make them keep up with the rest while building a light weight rally bike around them. OK, that's simpleton thinking, but I imagine an oil cooler here, an oil reservoir there under the seat, some material tests for valves and timing chain and voila. If a Aprilia RXV can go the distance, so can a KTM EXC.
They have a good deal of rally competence under their hat (since when, Pharaons 2008?), there's a proper team of riders ready to take over, the team structure seems to work (that's just conjection, but the results are there!) and there's enough potential backing from the Piaggio group. To me, this sounds like a winning combination. If the management in Noale decides to really go for it (and incorporate a 2nd team with a 2nd winning rider), they could just walk up there and take over from KTM.
My vote for the sexiest bike of the 2010 Dakar - what a shame about David's accident. I think they showed everyone how a sleek, modern, 450 Dakar racer can look like. I don't think they'll be able to field the budget necessary for a serious contender for the victory as I think you need at least 2 full teams for that (If Despres had a mechanical this year, the victory would have gone to a privateer! And last year KTM had 3 full teams, Red Bull, Repsol and Kästle!), but they can be the little brother who tries out new strategies and technologies, who attacks the leaders with lots of little pin-pricks and be the darling of the fans.
Everyone who wants to see the finish will be on a Yamaha. I don't see KTM or anyone else offering something like the RR replica for privateers in the future, although I'd love to see Sherco - or Aprilia - or anyone else doing just that. Full factory effort? Who knows, but rather not. Most probably is another French/Euro national effort.
Oh god, nobody knows what those suits in Munich talk about in their board meetings before they take the evening off to get a flogging by a dominatrix. They build a 450, then they buy Husqvarna. They buy the Knighter to win an enduro title, the bike/the rider suck. You can expect anything from almost nothing like this year up to a VW-like, multi-million "heh look at ziss awwsomm new BMW X1 assistance vehicle vee are riding around viss!" -factory effort, if some penny cruncher decides they need this for their south american strategy.