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DAKAR 2003 | KTM 950 LC8 Factory

I will always bring with me the memory of the day I came across one of the most incredible off-road motorcycles that the motorsport landscape could offer. Was the 3 September 2020 and from there on we would present to the public our book Obiettivo Dakar. Gio Hall would have been our guest of honor and already this was enough to make that day unforgettable. When, with an unparalleled tough face, I asked Gio if by chance it was possible to have his bike on display, his response was immediate and disarming: "if you want to go to Bergamo at Nicoli's and you get it, for me there are no problems, I notice them." And so we did. On the afternoon of the 3 September, this blue beast proudly got out of the van and was settled into its natural environment: on the sand, though not of the desert, but of the shoreline of Marina di Ravenna.

This KTM is an incredible bike: Powerful, high from the ground, Heavy. Imagine a motion of 200 dry kg for over 100 power cv. He demands respect and almost instils fear even just to move it from firm. I dare not imagine what it means to push such a purebred horse to the limit. The project of this bike was born in 2000 and the development of the prototype that you see in action worked hard (Translated: they came to walk even 2.000 km per day!) Fabrizio and Giovanni, followed in every step by the mechanic Bruno Ferrari. The first tests begin in February of 2001 in Tunisia and the definition of the race bike is entrusted to Fabrizio Meoni, always in collaboration with Giovanni Sala. Case more unique than rare, from the indications of the pilots comes the prototype that runs, but not only. Even the road bike, the 950 Adventure, New10, she is the daughter of racing motorcycles and takes advantage of all the directives given by the champions to Austrian engineers.

The 950 Rally in early versions came to develop over 115 horses, but it was preferred to contain its exuberance, to preserve the tires and mousses that did not hold such power over long distances. By regulation the minimum dry weight imposed was of 200 kg, to which should be added the 55 litres of petrol (in addition to mandatory water and various spare parts). So you can imagine how hard it was to drive the LC8 into the desert for hundreds of kilometers every day. Yet both Meoni and Sala with her won numerous stages and Fabrizio led her to success in the Dakar of the 2002.

The top speed was and is stunning: Gio's GPS recorded in the 2003 a tip of 208 km/h in the middle of the desert.

The LC8 engine is a 75° V-twin 942 CC, two-tree with 4 valves for cylinder and carburetor supply. Change to 6 hydraulically controlled clutch gears. The frame is a tingle in steel tubes, while the swingarm is made of aluminium.

Bike: KTM LC8 950 Rally Factory 2003
Engine: 2 75° V-cylinders, 108 horses, 942 CC, 8 Valves, liquid cooling, carburetor power supply
Weight: 200 kg dry weight
Tanks: 55 liters
Saddle height: > 100 cm
Maximum speed: 208 km/h

147_Giovanni_Sala_Team_Gauloises 2003

DAKAR 2003 | The next day's budget by Gio Sala and Arnaldo Nicoli

interview by Danilo Sechi

The frenetic pace of the Dakar Rally is behind, enduro samples Giovanni Sala and Arnaldo Nicoli – among the protagonists of this year's Race on African Soil that ended on the beaches of Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt – have resumed their usual activities, their thoughts are already turned to the next appointments provided by their discipline of choice but first runs the obligation to take stock of the last experience lived.

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“I just can't say I'm happy with how it went” Sala says, 39 years, Gorle “this was an edition of the Dakar pretty close to my features, where I could do just right, instead I find myself only with a 14th place finish. This time, however, my faults are really limited, I have to take it with other factors. First of all the race was not suitable for my twin-cylinder, too heavy and therefore unwieable among the many stone and sinuous slopes we encountered, and this slowed me down a lot especially in Tunisia, then I was braked first by a tire that literally melted, then from problems to the engine right in the stage best suited to the twin-cylinder and finally also from a power tube that did not get the fuel to the engine. In short, a continuous tribulation that has

Paris-Dakar 2003 Gigi Soldano

Paris-Dakar 2003 Photo Gigi Soldano

Demoralized.”

2003-young-room 2– However, a couple of trebles were not lacking. “Yes, two stage wins have come. And wanting to see the glass half full I didn't even run into bad falls, from this point of view it went well. But it must also be said that I got a bad flu and for a few days I ran with a fever and stuffed with medicines… it had never happened to me, will have been Libya's incredible thermal excursion. It means that next time I'll also do the flu vaccine!”

– For the enduro season 2003 what are the programmes and objectives? “I should run in the class 250 4 times but at the moment I'm not quite sure because the new Ktm is not ready yet. I leave to win the world and Italian titles and to deserve a place in the national team that will run in November the Six Days in Brazil, of course I'll see it with very strong opponents and none will be an easy feat. These days I'm going to enjoy a few days of skiing in the mountains, guest of my Dakar mechanic, who lives in Innsbruck, then the first race will be at Arcore on 9 February”.

Even more fictionalized the Dakar than Arnaldo Nicoli that, on a Ktm team fast support truck, he risked his life when a mine, at the entrance to Egyptian territory, destroyed the rear wheel of their vehicle forcing it to surrender. “I then continued my adventure on the car of Fabrizio Meoni's mechanic” explains the pilot of Slate “and we've reached the final finish line, while following easier alternative tracks. By the way, my presence was also very useful at the end of the 14th stage, between Dakhla and Luxor, after Meoni had fallen badly and had semi-destroyed the bike in an attempt to regain ground on the leader Sainct. We worked on it until three o'clock at night, to give it back to the Tuscan champion and at least allow him to attempt the difficult comeback. He tried, but he didn't make it., Too bad”.

– Then what happened? “I returned to Bergamo and resumed my work at Ktm Italia, Gorle, but now I'm taking a week off, I think I deserved it.!” – In the enduro sector what awaits you? “This year I will race with Husaberg participating in the Italian championship in the class over 4 times”.

KTM 660 2003

KTM 660 Dakar Richard Sainct 2003

The Dakar 2003 (We will continue to call it that even though this edition took off from Marseille and arrived in Sharm El Sheikh) will be remembered as one of the “Austrian rule ever” because of the 15 bike “Orange” in the first 15 positions!

For the winner Richard Sainct, the race was more "simple", the bike has held up well and is not involved in accidents and wins the title of King of Dakar, the third after the successes of 1999 and of the 2000 deservedly. The franceIf in 17 total stages of competition has come 5 times first, second twice and third twice: In short, It was simply the best.

Then the curtain falls on this edition of Dakar, Although no longer has the charm of yesteryear, and suffer the effects of globalization and the threats of international terrorism, tourism, She kept her vital showmanship.
The KTM 660 by Richard Sainct proves a perfect desert machine that has caught up with this edition the definitive maturity.