SECOND STAGE ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE WIN TO KTM’S FARIA
KTM Factory rider Ruben Faria of Portugal beat the desert sands on Tuesday to be fastest rider on Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Teammate Marc Coma is now just 20 seconds behind overall leader Joan Barreda.
Riders faced a long day in the heat and desert travelling 434 km, including a 283 km timed stretch almost entirely in the desert of the Arab Emirate. Marc Coma, KTM’s 3 x Dakar Rally winner, opened the road, always a difficult task in any rally. The man to beat in any such event, Coma’s rivals were keen to hunt him down and in the final reckoning he had to settle for eleventh place, 11 minutes and 11 seconds off Faria’s time. Ruben Faria’s good ride on Tuesday improved his position in the overall standings by one and he is now sixth overall. The Portuguese rider is the regular support rider for KTM’s Cyril Despres in the Dakar Rally.
As well as being the object of the hunt, Coma encountered strong winds on Tuesday that have changed the profile of the dunes over the past days. Rather than risk too much at this vital time of the rally he chose the cautious approach to ensure a good starting position tomorrow, when he will be second out of the start gate only with the 20 seconds deficit in the all important overall time.
Coma said after the rally that it had been a difficult task to open the route. “This prevents you going fast and gives a small advantage to those behind you. The aim today was to go as fast as possible, but without taking unnecessary risks,” he said. “The key was trying to lose as little time as possible to keep us in with a chance of winning the race. We will be trying to make the most of the fact that we are starting further back tomorrow to recover ground. I think that it is the longest stage of the rally and could be a very important day for deciding the race. A key factor will be getting through tomorrow without problems."
Stage 3 takes riders over 436 km which begins with a 59 km link preceding a times section of 168 km, another 9 km link and a second timed stretch of 178 km. Riders will encounter the spectacular red dunes of the Liwa desert and the iconic Tal Moreeb, the largest dune in the UAE. At the half way mark they will have just over an hour to refuel and then they will head for the demanding terrain of the Western Region, taking in the Ramlat Ar Rabbad desert before ending back at the event’s bivouac. Tomorrow will continue to test the endurance of both rider and bike as they battle both the sands and the intense heat of the region.
Both Coma and Faria ride KTM 450 Rally bikes.
Results Stage 2
1. Ruben Faria (P), KTM, 4:09:03 h
2. Jordi Villadoms (E), KTM
3. James West (UAE), Honda
4. Paolo Goncalves (P), Husqvarna
5. Gerard Farres (E), KTM
7. Jakub Przygonski (PL), KTM
11. Marc Coma (E), KTM
12. Matthew Fish (AUS), KTM
Overall Results after Stage 2
1. Joan Barreda (E), Husqvarna, 7:57.06 h
2. Coma, +20 sec
4. Helder Rodrigues (P), Yamaha