After two years in development, Red Bull KTM Factory will let loose its new race bike in the Rallye du Maroc.
The 2022 KTM 450 RALLY receives a new engine, new chassis and bodywork as well as a heap of under-the-skin changes that mortals like us need not be informed about just yet.
The more aggressive aesthetic is clear to see and we’d give at least one body part of their choosing to take the bike into the desert for a week to see how that engine, chassis and suspension works even at our megre pace.
The sands of Morocco will be a good test for the new bike and a chance for Aussie, Toby Price, to get back into Rally mode after missing the first two World Rallye rounds through injury.
“For sure I’m excited for the event here in Morocco – it’s been a long time since I’ve raced a rally since I was forced to miss the first two rounds of the season. The plan for the Rallye du Maroc is take things step-by-step and continue to build my speed while giving the new bike a proper shakedown. The main focus for me is to be back on form for the big one in January, but for now I’m just happy to be racing again and can’t wait to get back in the swing of things.”TOBY PRICE
Kevin Benavides will make his debut for the KTM team after being poached from Honda and will also be using the Rally to get used to his new bike in battle.
“For me, this is going to the first race with the KTM team, so of course I’m really excited, but also extra motivated to do well – I feel like a new rider and I’m really looking forward to getting started. At the beginning of the year, after signing with the team, the world championship was my main goal, but unfortunately, after injury that was impossible. Now, looking ahead to this race and Abu Dhabi in November, these last two races of the year will be more about training and getting to grips with the new KTM. On the positive side, I don’t feel any pressure now, of course, I want to do well and plan to focus on my navigation and rhythm, but it means I have time to properly settle into the team, get to know everyone, and enjoy these two events ahead of Dakar in January.”KEVIN BENAVIDES
Of the four riders in the Red Bull KTM Factory team, only Matthias Walkner has managed to put in a full season of racing and stands at the top of the leaderboard going into Morocco.
“Finally, after a three-month break, we’re ready to go racing again. It’s been a busy time in between the events as we spent around five weeks in America testing and training. That was really intense, but also very productive. I was really pleased with how I rode at the last round we raced in Russia and I’m hoping I can carry that form through to Morocco. My goal is to do my best as always, but hopefully enjoy a safe race. If all goes well, we should be close to the front at the end of the five days.”MATTHIAS WALKNER
The British rider, Sam Sunderland, will also be returning from injury for the Rally du Maroc making it a full house under the KTM truck awning.
“It’s been a little while since my last race, so I’m looking forward to Morocco. It’s always been an important race due to the type of terrain, and it also being quite close to Dakar on the calendar. I’m going to be riding the new bike, so I’m really keen to see how that performs under race conditions. Obviously, there are still some changes and adjustments to be made, and the boys have been doing a lot of hard work to get it ready. But there’s no test quite as good as the stresses of competition. Personally, I’m feeling good and pretty much back to full fitness after my little upside-downer in Kazakhstan, so I’m really excited to get back to it.”SAM SUNDERLAND