SUNDERLAND & COMA 1-2 AFTER FIRST LEG OF ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE
The KTM Factory Rally riders got down to some serious desert racing on Sunday with the opening leg of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the first round of the 2014 World Cross Country Rallies Championship.
Factory Team rookie Sam Sunderland of Britain was the fastest home in the opening stage of 290 km, shadowed by 4-times Dakar winner Marc Coma (Spain) just 34 seconds behind in second place.
Jordi Viladoms of Spain and KTM supported rider Jakub Przygonski (Poland) came in at fifth and sixth, 11:12 and 15:06 minutes off the pace set by Britain’s Sunderland. Sunderland and Coma are 1-2 in the overall standings after Leg One and Saturday’s prologue. The KTM Factory Racing team are competing on the 2014 KTM 450 RALLY, the machine on which Coma took his fourth Dakar victory in January and KTM thirteenth.
Riders faced dauntingly high temperatures and demanding conditions through the dunes on Day One to signal that there is plenty more tough riding on the menu in the coming days. Leg Two on Monday is set to be a challenge with 494.82 km through the Emirates desert, including 269.67 km under the clock.
Marc Coma: “It was a good day for us today and the first day is very important to get the feeling for the desert back again. We are coming back to racing after some months since the Dakar, and I have had time to rest and get fit. The first day of the rally here in Abu Dhabi is always tricky because we are already in the dunes in the first kilometers but I am feeling good and I have a good feeling for the bike. Sam (Sunderland) opened the road today and he was very fast. We rode together and we had a good rhythm. Now it’s important to plan a good strategy for the coming days.”
The stage was marred by the fatal accident of a British rider Cameron Waugh who was found injured at the 155 km mark by KTM’s support rider Jakub Przygonski of Poland. Przygonski raised the alarm and performed CPR for 20 minutes on the victim. Waugh was airlifted to hospital some 13 minutes later but was pronounced dead on arrival.
KTM Factory Racing joins Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the rally organizers in expressing condolences to the Waugh family. The president paid tribute to Przygonski, who he said “.... was heroic in the way he tried to save a fellow competitor.” Przygonski admitted to his team it had been a tough day and it had been difficult to concentrate after the accident.
Results Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Leg One (290 km)
Rd. 1 of the FIM World Cross Country Rallies World Championship
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 3:29:47 h
2. Marc Coma (ESP), KTM, +34 sec
3. Paolo Goncalves (POR), Honda, +2:44 min
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, +5:05
5. Jordi Viladoms (ESP), KTM, +11:12
6. Jakub Przygonski (POL), KTM, +15:06
Standings after prolugue and 1 of 5 legs
1. Sunderland, 3:31:52 h
2. Coma, +34 sec
3. Goncalves, +2:45 min
4. Barreda, +5:04
5. Viladoms, +11:13
6. Przygonski, +15:11
Note: KTM Racing News will file race reports after Leg 3 Wednesday and Leg 5 (Final). Results and standings will be filed daily and are available via the KTM Results Service by registering at this link.