I think you are right. The thinking that he would have had an advantage with the switch to 450 cc is obviously passe. He was instrumental in selling the theory that "450's could be as competitive and entertaining as the Camels of the Desert."
Though, small, racer size men on beasts with immense power to complement their enormity sailing across the desert sand at outrageous speeds is part of the initially fantasy that attracted many of us to Dakar.
The danger was obvious. The skill and courage needed to guide these beasts at such velocities in the uncertainty of the desert was that of the Gods.
I think everyone misses an open class yet understands the extra danger it brought.
Many know of the Isle of Man TT but not all understand why it is sacrosanct to many motorcyclists... a Mecca.
In case someone has time between catching highlights here is a recent documentary on the TT:
Isle of Man TT: A Dangerous Addiction