Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Marc Coma has started his participation in the World Raid Championship as he usually does, with a win in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Leading the race from the first stage, the Repsol rider has been able to keep his advantage over 2,000 kms (including 1,245 kms of timed stages) across the dunes of the United Arab Emirates harsh desert. This is the Spaniard’s fourth win after taking victory last year, in 2006 and 2007.
After some really difficult months for him, Marc Coma was in need of a win and he has achieved victory in the best possible way: he won the rally’s first stage and has stayed at the top of the general standings until the end of the competition. Strategy once more has played a very important role in Coma’s victory. He lost twenty seconds in Saturday’s prologue stage, which allowed him to start from 20th place on Sunday just to win the stage with a five-minute lead over second-place "Chaleco" López.
The second special was harder, as he had to open the race amid a strong sandstorm and extremely high temperatures. He finished the stage fifth but still managed to retain his first position with a three-minute lead. On Tuesday, with the sandstorm weakening but temperatures still around 40ºC, he finished third but extended his lead at the top of the general standings to twelve minutes.
Coma rode very steadily during the last two stages, yesterday and today, finishing second on both and arriving at the Abu Dhabi final finishing line with a ten-minute lead over the runner-up. The next test for the Repsol rider will be the Tunisia Rally, to start on May 1.
"I am very happy, winning is always good. The Desert Challenge is always a very special race, with all the dunes and really harsh desert conditions, so coming here and winning it again is a great feeling. It’s been a pretty tough race, just as we expected, with a strong sandstorm at the start and a lot of heat every day which is very hard for the bike and your own body."
"The strategy was the right one and everything has turned out well, because under such difficult circumstances the important thing is to cross the final finishing line without any major problems. I’d like to dedicate this victory to all the people that supported me, but specially, to those that wanted to grind me down, because the only thing they did was motivate me even more, increase my hunger to compete and reassure me of what we are: fighters".