FIM Cross Country Rally
The Repsol KTM rider Marc Coma won three of the five stages and wins the Desert Challenge, first round of he FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
Coma secured his fifth victory in the Arab Emirates at the Abu Dhabi Rally and starts in the best possible way the series he has already won fourth times.
In a race where strategy had again a very prominent role, Marc Coma was able to manage the stages in order to take the final victory in a race he knows very well.
He finished the prologue in a low position on the first day and took advantage of his starting place to recover lost ground on Sunday in the first stage and win the first leg, with more than four minutes advantage over the second, Hélder Rodrigues.
In the second leg, a stage that was mainly over dunes, the Repsol rider had to open the track and saw his advantage reduced to two minutes, but was able to keep the lead and take advantage of the low starting position to recover the ground on the third leg.
Coma achieved his second stage victory, despite a sandstorm that made things difficult for everyone, to widen his margin again in the overall classification.
Again forced to open the track, the Repsol rider finished the fourth leg (the longest of the rally, with 500 km) in eighth position, more than 28 minutes behind the stage’s winner.
Nevertheless, he still kept the first place in the classification with a 3 minutes and 22 seconds’ margin. He was able to start today in a lower place, which allowed him to improve again his advantage on top of the overall classification, thus securing his fifth victory in Abu Dhabi (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and now in 2011).
Marc Coma (Repsol KTM) says: “I am very happy with this victory, because it was very important to win again after the victory in the Dakar. It is never easy to keep the level, especially in a race like this, where it is difficult to arrive in good form after the Dakar.
“It is a very hard race both physically and technically, because nearly all the race is on open desert, with very big dunes and soft sand.It is a very hot and demanding race and this year was complicated due to the sandstorm in the last three days.
“It is a beautiful rally, with many contrasts, because it is a very different country than any other where we usually compete, and we are always very welcome. From the first day we set a good pace and did not make any mistakes, nor had any problems -which is the most important thing- so this is a fantastic result.”
Abu Dhabi Rally Results:
1. Marc Coma (KTM)
2. Hélder Rodrigues (Yamaha)
3. Jakub Przygonski (KTM)
4. Frans Verhoeven (Husqvarna)
5. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM)