COMA CHASING VICTORY IN THE ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE
KTM factory rider Marc Coma finished Stage Four of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Wednesday, crossing the line just 1:36 minute behind stage winner and overall leader Sam Sunderland.
Marc Coma, on the KTM 450 Rally bike now has the task of chasing down the young Briton who is resident in the UAE to neutralize his 2:53 minutes lead. At the end of the penultimate day Coma is sandwiched in between Sunderland and Speedbrain rider Paolo Goncalves of Portugal. While anything can happen on the final day of any rally, these are the three riders who seem likely finish on the podium. Separated by only 3:36 minutes, they are all fighting hard in the hope of taking the top spot.
Fourth placed KTM rider Pal Anders Ullevalseter of Norway is now 16:19 minutes behind the leader and Coma’s factory teammate Kuba Przygonski is trailing by 20:28 minutes. Sixth overall is KTM’s EnduroCross specialist Taddy Blazusiak who is riding a desert rally for the first time.
Speaking after Wednesday’s stage, Coma said he was very aware that he not only had to try to catch Sunderland but he also had pressure from Goncalves bringing up the rear. “We were a group of five at the beginning of the special but at the end we were just three together – Sam, me and Goncalves. Tomorrow will be very tough but I will do my best and we all know anything can happen on the final day. Regardless of the result I am happy with my performance after coming back to competition after a long injury break. Every day it has been getting better for me and I can push harder. Every day I feel more confident.” Coma crashed in the Morocco Rally in late 2013 and had to undergo shoulder surgery. He was not sufficiently recovered to contest the Dakar 2013 Rally, an event that he has already won three times. This is his first competition after the surgery.
The Desert Challenge has also been a good experience for Blazusiak as he warms up for the very intense and highly competitive EnduroCross season set to start at the X-Games in Brazil on April 18-21. After Wednesday’s rally he said he had had a small crash at the start of the stage and at first struggled to find his rhythm. “After a while it got better but today there was a lot of rolling dunes that were really hard to read,” Blazusiak said. Given that he also learning to navigate while riding, if he can hold onto his overall sixth place through tomorrow’s final stage, he can leave knowing he has delivered a good result.
Tomorrow’s final stage takes riders back to Abu Dhabi. There will be some desert and dunes but also some very fast sections to wrap up the week’s ride, which was cut short by a day after Monday’s Stage One was scrapped because of a sand storm.
Results Stage Four Abu Dhabi Deasert Challenge
1. Sam Sunderland (UK), Honda, 3:54.46 h
2. Marc Coma (E), KTM, +1.36 min
3. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (N), KTM, +2.33
4. Paolo Goncalves (P), Speedbrain, +2.37
5. Jakub Przgonski (PL), KTM, +4.42
9. Taddy Blazusiak (PL), KTM, +14.22
Provisional Standings after Stage Four
1. Sunderland. 11:16.54 h
2. Coma, +2.53 min
3. Goncalves, +3.35
4. Ullevalseter, +16.19
5. Przygonski +20.28
6. Blazusiak, +50.58