Rallye

KTM welcomes new Central European Rally of Dakar Series

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KTM factory riders and other privateers onboard KTM machines who were "Ready to Race" in the ill-fated Dakar 2008 have now had the edge taken off their disappointment with the announcement of the first of the new "Dakar": the Central Europe Rally. Riders now have the opportunity to regain some valuable competition time on their machines in this new event run by the Dakar organizers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). Set for April 20-24, 2008 the rally will offer free entry to any rider registered for the Dakar 2008 and will challenge them over some of central Europe's most varied and demanding terrain. Competitors will tackle over 3000 km of varied terrain with nearly half the total distance to be run in special stages. In a press release Dakar Champions KTM said it welcomed this initiative and the prospect of other rallies under the label "Dakar Series". The company is pleased that ASO has pushed forward their plans to start this new series, which was already in the pipeline before the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar. ASO had originally planned to launch the "Dakar Series" in 2009. Now the Central European Rally 2008 becomes its inaugural event and KTM sees it as another positive milestone in the development of rally sport. "The main manufacturers who compete in the Dakar have had meetings in Germany and in Paris together with the organisers. All riders who were registered for the Dakar 2008 will be allowed to enter the Central European Rally free of charge so this is some compensation for missing the big race," said KTM's Offroad Motor Sports Consultant Heinz Kinigadner. At the same time Kinigadner said efforts were being made to obtain a high standard of media coverage so that the Central European Rally would also be rewarding to the sponsors. The former world champion Kinigadner also underlined that it had been the right decision to cancel the Dakar in January because of terrorist threats. "It was 100% the right decision. After all, we have 2500 people involved in that race." Kinigadner said various options were under consideration for a replacement venue for Dakar 2009 and although there was no official announcement yet, the one most likely would be South America. "In that case, the rally would start in Argentina and finish in Chile," he said. "It is important to retain the January date on the racing calendar and this would be one of our few options for another venue for the Dakar." In another interesting development Kinigadner reported that a second race in the Dakar Series was under consideration for Spain and Portugal in September. In the future, he said, the series is likely to be used as a qualifier for the main Dakar event in January. The Central European Rally starts in the Hungarian capital Budapest, forges into the centre of neighbouring Romania and then returns to finish at the beautiful landscape of Hungary's Lake Balaton.

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