COMA FINISHES SECOND IN BOTH MOROCCO RALLY AND WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2013
Three times Dakar Rally winner Marc Coma wrapped up his week’s campaign in the OilLibya Rally of Morocco on Saturday, narrowly missing first place overall by 3:44 minutes to eventual winner Paulo Goncalves of Portugal. Coma also placed second in the 2013 World Cross Countries Rallies Championship.
But while Marc Coma had to concede overall victory after a hard fought battle, the event was still a very strong result overall for both the KTM Factory Team and its support riders. They all delivered impressive results, and above all, were extremely pleased with the performance of the newly rolled out KTM 450 Rally factory bike, which made its first competitive appearance in Morocco.
Factory Team Manager Alex Doringer was particularly upbeat at the end of the event: “The positive thing is that our new bike really proved the quality it is! I am super pumped and very proud of what we have built. Dakar is coming soon and we are on the right track to fight for another victory.” Doringer added that in the Dakar 2014, KTM expected good performances from its factory team riders Marc Coma, Chaleco Lopez, Ruben Faria and Kurt Caselli and from support riders Ben Grabham of Australia and South African Riaan van Niekerk.
The week also ended on a high for Grabham (KTM Australia) when he won the final stage and jumped three places in the overall standings from ninth to sixth. Also for Caselli, the team’s American rider who was third in Stage Six just 2:41 minutes behind the leader Grabham and seventh overall despite having picked up a 20 minute penalty on the opening day for missing a waypoint.
Coma had started strongly on the final day in what was perhaps the most difficult stage of this year’s edition and had almost trimmed his time deficit completely when things went sour after CP1. Even Coma’s rich experience was not enough to make up the time after he made a navigation error. By CP2 he had conceded 2:40 minutes to Gonclaves and by the end of the stage he trailed his rival by 3:44 minutes, still good enough to secure second place in both the rally and the World Championship.
After missing the Dakar 2013 through a shoulder injury from the Morocco Rally in 2012, Coma had started the World Championship series strongly by winning the first three rounds in United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Sardinia. With podiums in the South American rounds, he then went into the final round with a narrow three-point lead over Goncalves.
The Morocco Rally was also a strong event for factory rider Chaleco Lopez, who despite some difficulties on the final day finished fourth overall, and for both Caselli and Grabham. Caselli was drafted in at the last minute to race for the injured Coma in Dakar 2013 and has since been named as a full factory rider for KTM. Grabham also made his Dakar Rally debut in 2013, a remarkable feat as just one year before he had suffered serious back injuries when he hit a kangaroo at high speed in an offroad event in Australia. Grabham is one of the most highly decorated offroad riders in Australia and is a KTM Australia support rider. Support rider Riaan van Niekerk of South Africa was also promising, steadily moving up the overall standings after each stage to finally finish twelfth.
The unluckiest member of the team was factory rider Ruben Faria of Portugal who was still dealing with the consequences of a fractured hand from the Rally dos Sertoes in Brazil in August. He was experiencing a lot of pain and rider and team jointly decided after Stage Three that he should withdraw to concentrate on getting fit for the Dakar.
Results Stage Six OilLibya Rallye Morocco 2013
1. Ben Grabham (AUS), KTM, 2:36.39 h
2. Helder Rodrigues (P), Honda, +1:18 min
3. Kurt Caselli (USA), KTM, +2:41
4. Jeremias Israel-Esquerre (RCH), Speedbrain, +3:00
5. Paulo Goncalves (P), Honda, +4:56
6. Marc Coma (E), KTM, +8:26 min
11. Chaleco Lopez (RCH), KTM, +26:36
16. Riaan van Niekerk (RSA), KTM, +43:13
Final Standings OiLibya Rallye Morocco 2013
1. Goncalves, 17:08.59 h
2. Coma, +3:44 min
3. Joan Barreda (E), Honda, +7:39
4. Lopez, +32:58
5. Sam Sunderland (UK), Honda, +45:57
6. Grabham, +55:08 min
7. Caselli, +1:04.32 h
12. van Niekerk, +2:55.32
OiLibya Rallye Morocco 2013