Originally Posted by ManxBerg
I agree with Jmo, in that KTM will want to win with their engine. However I think some of us are looking at the problem from a privateers perspective.
The new 450 rule will, for me, mean that the top teams will have a lot more for the mechanics to do. I applaud Sherco for their attempt at the Dakar this year, but was horrified to hear that they were stripping and rebuilding the motors every night!
You can be sure that next year KTM will be rebuilding motors everynight to make sure their 450 gets to the end. This to the outside world will make the KTM engine look strong and reliable. Proven in the Dakar!
This doesn't help anyone in the short term, but hopefully will lead to more reliable 450's in the future.
Personally I still don't understand who the rule change is mean't to help. The 450's still go fast enough for you to get hurt, and the future privateer will now have a less reliable bike, which probably needs an engine change on the rest day.
I share your concerns Manxberg - I spent a lot of time (and money) building a 660cc rally bike last year, and now (realistically) I'm going to have to build a 450cc bike, and yet there is nothing out there with the bullet-proof reliability of a large capacity machine (unless I go totally old skool with an XR400 or DRZ400 and a big bore kit...)
However, from talk 'around the paddock' last year when the 450cc rule was introduced, it seems the feeling is that ASO want to limit the number of privateer entries on this rally anyway - we all know that a privateer entry in the bike class is the cheapest way to enter the Dakar, and it's not so much that privateers have more accidents (a lot don't, as their focus is on finishing, not racing at the limit the whole time), or even lack the necessary experiance - rather they want to preserve or even enhance the image that the Dakar is all about the elite
, and 'superhuman', and not least that factory (or sponsored) teams have a lot more money, and will pay extra entry fees for all the additional mechanics they bring with them to ensure success?
I do think the ruling had a lot to do with encouraging other manufacturers (or at least teams willing to field bikes other than KTMs) to enter the race too - whether that happens we'll have to see, although like you say, Sherco did incredibly well for a first time effort - and no wonder they took every precaution to ensure the bike started the next morning!
However, while the bikes still provide a fantastic spectacle, I fear ASO are more interested in the 4 wheeled dollars the major manufacturers bring to the party? One thing is for sure, they aren't going to introduce a rule that makes it easier for anyone, or makes them any less money!
Just a thought to poke the fire around the bivouac mind...