2012 Dakar Rally
The 33rd edition of the Dakar Rally is underway, bringing the ultimate New Year’s Day present to motorcycle-racing fans for 2012.
And many of these fans have their eyes on KTM riders, most notably the two who share three Dakar Rally wins apiece – Marc Coma and Cyril Despres.
The Spaniard Coma was the highest-placed KTM rider in Stage One, which took 177 motorcycle competitors over 474 miles, with the first 35 timed, from Mar Del Plata to Santa Rosa de la Pampa, Argentina.
Coma finished in second place, a mere 14 seconds behind the Stage One winner, Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez (Team Aprilia).
Marc Coma (MRW Red Bull MRW AMV KTM 450 Rally) says: “The first special was breathtaking: next to the seaside and with beautiful little dunes. It really was a fantastic warm-up. But we still have a long day ahead of us, with a lengthy liaison.”
As for the Frenchman Despres, he finished 13th, 1:48 behind Lopez.
Cyril Despres (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: “I took this special quite cautiously because there were a lot of potholes, fesh-fesh, dust… and spectators, so I kept it cool at the beginning!”
As for the “water carriers,” Despres’ support rider Rubin Faria of Portugal finished in eighth place, 1:18 behind Lopez; Coma’s support rider, Joan Pedrero of Spain, finished in 18th, 2:24 behind Lopez.
As for the newcomers, KTM says :KTM Enduro factory rider Johnny Aubert of France is making his first Dakar appearance riding the KTM 450 Rally bike and supported by the KTM Customer Service. With a mission to ‘learn and enjoy the Dakar experience’, Johnny finished 20th just 2:29 behind the leader.
“Felipe Zanol of Brazil, who finished a close second to Cyril Despres in this year’s Dos Sertoes Rally in Brazil was 26th and trails the leader by 3:15 minutes. New Zealander Chris Birch, who races in Extreme events for KTM, such as the Red Bull Romaniacs and the notorious Red Bull Hare Scramble at Erzberg, Austria is also tackling his first Dakar and was 5:51 behind the leader in 39th place.
“Moh Balooshi, KTM’s UAE rider and the first Arab to contest the bike category, ended the day trailing by 16 minutes 20 seconds and must now settle down to some steady riding to make up the deficit.”
With less than three minutes separating the first 20 riders it is clear that they get down to serious business in Stage Two. They leave Santa Rosa to tackle 300 km of timed special that starts on firm terrain and ends in dangerously tricky soft sand. As they get closer to their destination at San Rafael they will encounter the grey volcanic sand that slows down their bikes and requires absolute concentration and physical effort from the riders.
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2012 Dakar Stage One Results (Mar Del Plata to Santa Rosa de la Pampa: 57 km Special; 763 Liaison):
1. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, 32 minutes 37 seconds
2. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 14 seconds
3. Javier Pizzolito, Argentina, Honda, at 27 seconds
4. Quinn Cody, USA, Honda, at 30 seconds
5. Jakub Przygonski, Poland, KTM, at 49 seconds
8. Rubin Faria, Portugal, KTM, at 1:18
11. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM, 1:41
13. Cyril Despres, France, KTM 1:48
18. Joan Pedrero, Spain, KTM 2:24
19. Jordi Villadoms, Spain, KTM 2:25
20. Johnny Aubert, France, KTM 2:29
21. Alessandro Botturi, Italy, KTM 3:03
26. Felipe Zanol, Brazil, KTM 3:15
39. Chris Birch, New Zealand, KTM 5:51
130. Moh Balooshi, UAE, KTM 16:20