KING OF THE DESERT: COMA TAKES VICTORY IN THE ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE!
Marc Coma made a successful return to international rally racing this week when he won a shortened version of the five-stage Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the opening round of the 2013 World Cross Countries Rally Championship.
With this narrowest of victories – Marc Coma took the overall win by a mere 32 seconds after four days of riding his KTM 450 Rally bike in the desert sands – the Spanish rider and three-times Dakar winner laid the foundation to retain his world championship title. Coma has now won this rally seven times, including for the last five editions. He finished the final last leg back to Abu Dhabi in second place by just 10 seconds to take overall victory from Portugal’s Paolo Goncalves and Briton Sam Sunderland, the Honda rider who went into the final leg as overall leader.
Coma’s teammate Jakub “Kuba” Przygonski of Poland finished fifth overall and Taddy Blazusiak, KTM’s EnduroCross factory champion took seventh overall after his very first taste of desert riding. For Blazusiak the rally was an opportunity to experience and learn and to take advantage of a window of opportunity before flying to Brazil for the opening round of the World Endurocross Championship at the X-Games on April 18.
Coma’s result was also a personal triumph after a long injury break. He crashed in the Morocco Rally in late 2012 and the ensuing surgery to his shoulder injury stopped him from being able to compete in the Dakar 2013.
Coma: “To be honest I didn’t expect to be able to win here after a long time away from competition. But after the first days I felt more confident and I was able to start to push. This race is never easy and this time it was even more difficult to plan the tactics because the first stage was canceled. The important thing is always to be consistent, to make no mistakes and to maintain a high rhythm and the last two days I was really focused.”
Coma and Przygonski now travel to Qatar to compete in the Sealine Rally, Round 2 of the World Championships where Chaleco Lopez of Chile will join them in the KTM Factory Team. The Sealine Rally starts on Sunday April 21.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (Opening round of the 2013 World Championship)
1. Marc Coma (E), KTM, 14:31.51 hours (7th career victory in this rally, 5th consecutive)
2. Paolo Goncalves (P), Speedbrain, +32 sec
3. Sam Sunderland (UK), Honda, +8:13 min
4. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (N), KTM, +17:12
5. Kuba Przgonski (PL), KTM, +18:02
7. Taddy Blazusiak (PL), KTM, +1:11 h
8. Miran Stanovnik (SLO), KTM, +1:17.31
Results Stage Five
1. Goncalves, 3:03.53 hours
2. Coma, +10 sec
3. Helder Rodrigues (P), Honda, +32
4. Przygonski, +37
5. Sunderland, +1:48 min
6. Ullevalseter, +3:56
7. Blazusiak, +7:26
8. Stanovnik, +10:31