ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE: STAGE THREE WIN TO PRZYGONSKI
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Rally, the first round of the FIM Cross Countries World Championship continued in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with KTM factory rider Kuba Przygonski taking the Stage Three win and World Champion Marc Coma well placed in third to attack. He trails leader Sam Sunderland by 1:17 minutes.
Kuba Przygonski completed the 284 km timed special in 3:37.16 hours ahead of second placed Paolo Goncalves of Portugal with Marc Coma in third and KTM rider Pal Anders Ullevalseter in fourth. The top five riders are separated only by around 15 minutes in the overall standings and are now likely to dominate the final outcome. The sixth place rider, David McBride of Britain, also riding a KTM, is 35 minutes off the leader.
Stage Three is only the second outing in the dunes for riders after Monday’s stage was cancelled because of a sand storm and Coma said this had complicated the team’s tactics because riding time had been cut by one day. “I tried to push today to open up a gap but it is not easy in this open desert. The first two hours are okay but then it gets very hot and the soft sun overhead makes it hard to see the contours. Tomorrow will be very important,” he added.
The Desert Challenge is the Spanish rider’s first real test of fitness since surgery for an injured shoulder late last year. But so far he reports that he feels good on his KTM 450 Rally bike and after intensive preseason preparation is satisfied with his level of fitness. He has won this desert classic six times, including victory in the past four editions.
It was also good day out for KTM's EnduroCross specialist Taddy Blazusiak who finishing eighth in the stage after some small navigation problems. He trailed Przygonski by 15:14 minutes in the stage and is now seventh in the overall standings with a deficit of 36:36 minutes to the leader. Blazusiak is using this window of opportunity in his preparation for the highly competitive EnduroCross season to test himself in the sand with his KTM teammates.
Taddy Blazusiak: “Its fun and I am learning a lot but the important thing for me is to ride safe because the EnduroCross season is about to start. It’s also difficult because the rally bike is much bigger than what I usually ride and I have to learn to navigate and watch the GPS. There’s a lot happening but I try to stay in control and to enjoy the experience.”
Day Four on Wednesday is another 260 km in the open desert and is the penultimate stage. The rally concludes Thursday.
Results Stage Three Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
1. Jakub Przygonski (PL), KTM, 3:37.16 h
2. Paolo Goncalves (P), Speedbrain, +1:56 min
3. Marc Coma (E), KTM, +2:56
4. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (N), KTM, +3:00
5. Sam Sunderland (UK), Honda, +3:52
6. Helder Rodrigues (P), Honda, +5:18
8. Taddy Blazusiak (PL), KTM, +15:14
9. Miran Stanovnik (SLO), KTM, +16:54
10. David McBride (UK), KTM, +17:24
Standings after Stage 3 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge