KTM-Logo-2-14-12KTM goes to the Dakar 2014 with a new team structure, a brand new KTM 450 Rally bike and the determination to fight for a thirteenth title in the world’s toughest rally. Marc Coma of Spain leads the Red Bull KTM Factory Team’s title chase and is going for his fourth victory. Also in the factory team are Portugal’s Ruben Faria, Jordi Villadoms of Spain and Chaleco Lopez of Chile.

While the team was dealt a blow in November with the death of long-time KTM rider Kurt Caselli, they all go to the 2014 edition determined to honor his memory. Caselli was drafted into the factory lineup for 2013 after Coma was ruled out because of a shoulder injury and had a brilliant debut ride.

JCR Honda’s Quinn Cody was not only able to finish his first Dakar race, he also was able to crack into the top 10! As JCR’s press release noted, “It cannot be overstated that Quinn was nothing short of spectacular in his first DAKAR Rally effort and earned top rookie status!”

The year’s Dakar saw more than half of the competitors that started on January 1st not making it to the finish. The specials were long and hard until the very end, and unexpected weather like heavy rainfall made for dramatic day to day changes in the conditions and tested the competitors to the limit every day.

During the first 12 stages and 9000 kilometers of the Dakar Rally competition, Darren Skilton and Sue Mead alternated driving and navigation duties.

For this final leg, excited and exhausted, Mead took the wheel in Cordoba for Stage 13. It was another scorcher as they made their way to the Special, a 180-kilometer sprint to the finish.

“When I began looking into making this a reality 10 months ago, my greatest hope was just to just get here, to participate,” Mead said. “When we cleared Stage 12 in Cordoba and all the other Open Production cars were out, it sunk in. We could actually win our class.”

Volkswagen has unveiled its new Dakar challenger, the Race Touareg 3. Replacing the Race Touareg 2, twice winner in 2009 and 2010 of the grueling Dakar Rally and the first diesel-powered vehicle ever to win the event, the new Race Touareg 3 promises to be faster and more efficient while retaining the immense strength and durability of the outgoing car.

Off-Road.com regulars might remember that VW unveiled its race Touareg a few years back with a team of Ryan Arciero and Mark Miller set to tackle the SCORE Tecate Baja 1000. The Touareg had a few mechanical issues during the race and didn’t quite live up to expectations at the 1000, but it did fare better in the Dakar and looks to have continued success in 2011.

The Dakar 2011 will mark the third time in three years that the event will run in South America, and race organizers have already put together an official promotional video for the event. The 2011 race will through the countries of Spain and Chile. The race was traditionally known as The Paris-Dakar Rally, as the event took racers from Paris, France on to Dakar, Senegal. Unfortunately, the event was canceled in 2008 due to terrorist threats and concerns in France, which forced the promoters to find a new home for the race (and hence the change in name to simply “The Dakar”). In 2009, when the race moved to South America, it was the first time the race was not held in Europe and Africa.