2011 Motorcycle Rally Racing
Spaniard Marc Coma and Frenchman Cyril Despres, both double winners of the mighty Dakar Rally, continued their domination of rally sport this week finishing the 5-day 2011 Sardegna Rally in 1-2 and far ahead of the opposition.
While Coma registered another triumph on his Dakar-winning KTM 450 Rally bike, Despres tackled the Enduro-style rally with a specially prepared KTM 530 EXC machine. And just like the 2011 Dakar, the two riders finished the five-day event just a few minutes apart.
Coma emerged as the dominant force taking victory four minutes 16 seconds ahead of his eternal French rival. The domination of the two KTM riders was underlined by the fact that the third placed Helder Rodriguez of Portugal finished almost 24 minutes behind the winner.
Other KTM riders to excel were Jacub Przygonski of Poland who finished in sixth place and Ruben Faria of Portugal, who was Despres’ water carrier in the 2011 Dakar who finished eighth. Faria also took line honors in the final special stage. Just 29 riders from 60 starters completed the rally.
The 2011 Sardegna Rally in brief
Day One: Porto Cervo to Porto Conte, 330 km including two specials of 76 km and 65 km respectively featuring a lot of forest navigation. Coma opened the track over 115 km of liaison before attacking the timed sections. The Spaniard won both specials while Despres, who started at 15 in the Open Class, finished just 2 minutes 25 behind him at the end of the day. Faria finished fifth.
Day Two: Porte Conte to Sa Itria on the north coast of Sardinia including two specials of 76 and 65 km with constant changes of direction demanding maximum concentration. Coma won the first special to retain the overall lead: Despres took the second special to trail by just 1’49.84. Coma said it had been hard to open the rally on two consecutive days in a rally that was "more like a big Enduro than rally-raid".
Day Three: Sa Itria to Arbatax, 260 km including a special of 160 km. Today it was up to Cyril, as the winner of the second special to open the track and he managed to cut Marc Coma’s overall lead to 1’49.84 saying: "I was feeling good on the bike, the track was nice and I started to see Marc (Coma’s) dust ahead of me. So I attacked a bit more and managed to pull back some useful time." The track took riders along 8 km of high mountain road with a huge sheer drop off to the left. The second part of the marathon stage meant that competitors could not change tires before the 100 km mark.
Day Four: Arbatx and Oresei (390 km), with two special stages of 45 km and 60 kms. In this special Coma was able to extend his lead to 5’03’02 after overtaking his KTM rival.
Cyril Despres says: "I maybe lacked a little bit of aggression over some rocky ground (no dust) and Marc was able to get past me. That meant 40 km of eating his dust until right at end of the special where I had a momentary loss of concentration and lost a little more time with the navigation."
Day Five: Victory in the first special for Cyril Despres and in the second to teammate Ruben Faria but Cyril’s strong performance was not enough to completely close the gap on his eternal rival. While admitting he always starts to win KTM’s French rider said: "Once again, it was very close between Marc and me with difference amounting to less than a minute a day. Plus it is difficult to be disappointed when you race such excellent tracks in such a beautiful place. "
2011 Sardegna Rally Overall Results
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 450 Rally
2, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 530 EXC at 4 minutes 15.81
3, Helder Rodriguez, Portugal, Yamaha, at 23:54.38
4, Stephanie Peterhansel, France, Yamaha
5, Paolo Ceci, Italy, Beta
Special Stage Results for KTM’s leading riders
SS1: 1, Coma; 2, Despres
SS2: 1, Coma; 6, Despres
SS3: 1, Coma; 2, Despres
SS4: 1, Despres; 2, Coma
SS5: 1, Coma; 2, Despres
SS6: 1, Coma; 2, Despres
SS7: 1, Coma; 4, Despres
SS8: 1, Despres; 8, Coma
SS9: 3, Despres; 6, Coma