COMA A VERY CLOSE SECOND IN ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE!
KTM’s four time Dakar winner Marc Coma fought a great fight this week at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for the closest of finishes on the final Leg Five to miss the overall victory by just 20 seconds.
Marc Coma of Spain was on the podium with overall winner Paolo Goncalves and third placed Joan Barreda but can be well satisfied with his performance in the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies Championship.
KTM Factory teammate Jordi Viladoms finished in fourth overall and with Slovenia’s Miran Stanovnik in fifth to give KTM three of the top five riders in the competition. KTM UAE’s Mohammed AlBalooshi finished in sixth overall.
KTM factory riders competed on the 2014 KTM 450 RALLY bike, the same machine Coma rode to KTM's 13th Dakar victory in January 2014.
Throughout the week Coma was never off the winning pace by more than 1:31 minutes. He was the overall leader after Leg Two and Leg Four but his win in Leg Four meant he was first out on the final day with the added responsibility of opening the track.
Sam Sunderland, the talented young British rider made a stunning start to the rally in his debut ride for the KTM Factory Racing team. He took line honors in Legs One and Three before exiting in the fourth leg with bike issues, the result of coming off a particularly high dune during Leg Four.
Marc Coma: "We fought until the last kilometer but in this race we know the starting order has a big influence. We also had a race strategy with Sam (Sunderland) that we could not carry out after he went out. We missed the win by just 20 seconds, which was a shame because it would have been great to win here for the eighth time. I felt very comfortable and after winning the Dakar, I had the same motivation. I will try to get the win in Qatar (Sealine Rally April 20-25) that has eluded us here by such a small margin.”
It was also an unlucky outing for KTM supported rider Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski who crashed out of Leg Two. He returned to Poland for treatment for an injured back and dislocated elbow. His Orlen Team reported that he would not need surgery.
Results Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Leg Five
1. Paolo Goncalves (POR), Honda, 2:44:06 h
2. Marc Coma (ESP), KTM, +1:51 min
3. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, +4:26
4. Helder Rodrigues (POR), Honda, +5:17
5. Jordi Viladoms (ESP), KTM, +9:29
6. Miran Stanovnik (SLO), KTM, +12:31
7. Mohammed AlBalooshi (ARG), KTM, +21:38
Final Standings after 5 of 5 Legs
1. Goncalves, 16:57:47 h
2. Coma, +20 sec
3. Barreda, +8:44 min
4. Viladoms, +40:49
5. Stanovnik, +1:39:34 h
6. AlBalooshi, +2:00:06