Originally Posted by Flood
I also think that IF the rumor is true, the background could be KTM retiring from the Dakar. Manufacturer of the year or not, they still aren't totally stable financially and they have been hurting since 2008. Keeping up the huge factory effort for the Dakar is a completely different thing for KTM than for a company like Honda.
Maybe KTM says 11 wins is enough, Coma is retiring and Despres is out to earn some more money at HRC?
KTM's shift away from rally racing would not be that surprising. It takes a huge investment to maintain teams with a virtual guarantee for 2 or 3 KTMs on the podium. That investment would be difficult to justify from a marketing standpoint, given their current corporate focus, and I do not think KTM has any interest in running a second tier effort.
Up until the 450 rule there was a direct link from the bikes for sale to the general public and the KTMs winning Dakar. You could go down to the local dealer, pick up a 640 Adventure, 950 Adventure, or 690 R and feel a connection to the likes of Fabrizio Meoni, Nani Roma, or Cyril Despres. KTM's 450 Rally has never been much more than a (extremely capable) quad/MX/rally parts bin bike and there is nothing even related to it available for sale.
KTM's near-term goal appears to be expanding sales in the booming Asian market. To what degree does winning Dakar generate sales for KTM there?
Further, the public unfortunately seems more interested in soft "adventure" bikes along the lines of BMW's GS series than those with real off-road abilities like KTM's 990 Adventure R. Both the LC4 and LC8 offerings have become more road oriented as time goes by to meet that demand. The relevance to rally racing for KTM may be fading as markets shift.