ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE: SOLID FIRST DAY FOR KTM RIDERS
KTM’s Marc Coma launched his bid on Monday to retain his title in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the race that he has successfully dominated for the past four years and which he has already won six times. He finished Monday's Stage Two in a comfortable second place in what was effectively the first day after Sunday's Stage One was cancelled following a sand storm forced cancellation.
Marc Coma is perfectly placed 2:13 minutes behind leader Sam Sutherland of the UK, the prime position for the master tactician to take on the slightly longer Stage Three. It was Coma’s first real test of stamina, strength and fitness after recovering from the shoulder injury late last year that prevented him from challenging for his fourth Dakar Rally title in January.
“I have been training very hard but today was very important for me because it was my first real test after the injury to see if I had the power and the speed and to see if I didn’t get tired during the stage,” Coma said.
Coma came in ahead of Portugal’s Paolo Goncalves while veteran KTM rider Pal Anders Ullevalseter was fourth, followed by KTM factory rider Kuba Przygonski of Poland in fifth. He trails the leader by 19:38 minutes. KTM’s third factory rider, Extreme and EnduroCross specialist Taddy Blazusiak, also of Poland, is currently in eighth 25:14 minutes behind Sunderland. Blazusiak is using the rally to keep fresh and in shape ahead of his challenge to defend his EnduroCross title.
On Tuesday winds in the desert had calmed but the sandstorm had reshaped the dunes, which made up about 98 percent of the stage. After a 6.00 a.m. start riders reached the 250 km of timed special at 8.00 a.m.
“Today was a real stage,” Coma added. “It was a tough race and the first day is never easy. It took me a while to find my rhythm but I soon settled in. We had very hot temperatures towards the end of the special but I’m happy with my performance and I’m happy with my bike. Tomorrow we have about 30 km more but I will try to stay consistent and of course to play with the tactics a little.” Coma makes his challenge on the 2013 KTM 450 Rally factory bike.
Since 1995, KTM riders have dominated every edition of this rally except on two occasions. Early winners included KTM’s Austrian legend Heinz Kinigadner who won in 1995 and 1998. Coma has six victories and long time rival Cyril Despres of France has five titles to his name.
Results Stage Two Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Please Note: Leg One was cancelled due to a storm
1. Sam Sutherland (UK), Honda 3:39.19 h
2. Marc Coma (E), KTM, 3:41.28
3. Paolo Goncalves (P), Speedbrain, 3:42.08
4. Pal Ullevalseter (N), KTM, 3:53.51
5. Jakub Przygonski (PL), KTM 3:58.50
6. Sebastien Hussein (NL), Honda 3:59.44
7. David McBride (UK), KTM, 4:01.01
8. Taddy Blazusiak (PL), KTM 4 :04.24
9. Luan Carlos Salvatierra (BOL), Honda, 4:08.32
10. Miran Stanovnik (SLO), KTM, 4:10.59