KTM’S COMA POISED FOR VICTORY GOING INTO FINAL OF THE ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE
KTM’s Marc Coma, factory rider and 3 times Dakar Rally hero on Thursday put himself in the box seat to take a sixth title in the Abu Dhabi Desert Classic.
Although the Spanish rider finished a careful eleventh in the penultimate stage, he has a six minute 34 second advantage in the overall standings.
Teammate Ruben Faria also had a good day finishing second in Leg 4 following on from his stage win on Tuesday. He was the fastest of five KTM riders who finished in the top ten on Thursday. The Portuguese factory rider who normally supports KTM’s Cyril Despres in the Dakar rally is currently a strong fourth overall. The rally, although compact and only over five days, is extremely strenuous desert riding and demands 100% from both rider and machine. Both Coma and Faria are on the Dakar-winning KTM 450 Rally bike.
It was Marc Coma’s job as Leg 3 winner to open the track, always a daunting task in the open desert and looking ahead to a grueling 318 km route. He finished in eleventh place on the day but managed to lose only two minutes of his more than eight-minute advantage in the overall standings on a day when tactics also played a major role.
Coma said the day’s ride had been ‘hugely demanding’ – almost five hours on the bike when temperatures soared well into the 40 degree Celsius. He and his team adopted a ‘no mistakes’ policy for Leg 4 to avoid any nasty surprises at this key stage of the rally. The leg took riders into the open desert and presented them with plenty of challenging dunes. At the end of the day Coma remained confident that he was in with a good chance to take the win tomorrow. “If we don’t have a disaster then we have this one sewn up,” he said.
The 2012 edition of the Desert Challenge finishes on Friday with the 287 km Abu Dhabi Aviation Leg when riders head north from the Empty Quarter Desert back to the capital for the ceremonial finish next to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Yacht Club at 4.30 p.m.
Results Stage 4
1. Helder Rodrigues (P), Yamaha, 4:22.67 hours
2. Ruben Faria (P), KTM
3. Paulo Goncalves (P), Husqvarna
4. Mathew Fish (AUS), KTM
5. Jordi Villadoms (E), KTM
6. Alessandro Botturi (I), KTM
8. Jakub Przygonski (PL), KTM
11. Marc Coma (E), KTM
12. Gerard Farres (E), KTM
13. Paolo Ceci (I), KTM
15. Mohammed Balooshi (UAE), KTM
Standings after Stage 4
1. Coma, 17:25.40 hours
2. Joan Barreda (E), Husqvarna, +6:34 min