Abu Dhabi Desert Race: Coma Tops Stage 1


2012 Cross Country Rally Raid World Championship

The opening round of the 2012 Cross Country Rally Raid World Championship begin Monday, the first of five days in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

And leading Monday was MRW Repsol KTM’s Marc Coma, who said the stage would be very demanding, especially in temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the Al Gharbia region and the Liwa desert.

Coma finished 1:09 ahead of Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues, who Coma said will be his biggest rival. In third, 2:42 back, was Honda Sam Sunderland.

Marc Coma (MRW Repsol KTM 450 Rally) says: “I am happy with how the stage went today. We are already in the desert and taking on an important stage that is 280km in length was a tough start against the clock. We headed south in the direction of the desert and were able to tackle the first dunes and long off-road sections. It was a problem-free stage and I was trying to put down the fastest pace possible in order to take an early advantage.

“We know that in such a short and tactical race we have to gain every second possible. I had a small fuel problem just before the refueling point, but that only lost me a few seconds and I was able to continue on without too much delay.”

KTM says: “Monday morning presented the riders with an overcast sky making visibility in the stark landscape difficult. The opening stage featured 177 miles of desert including many small, wind swept dunes, which proved to be the downfall of a number of riders including KTM rider and Dakar veteran Jacek Czachor of Poland. He was up front for the first 111 miles but then crashed in the dunes and injured his leg. He will review the situation tomorrow morning and decide if he is able to continue, his team reported.”

On Tuesday, riders will be back on their bikes at 8 a.m. to begin Stage 2, which will take them 269 miles over the towering sand dunes in the second leg named after the ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company). The riders will finish back at the event’s bivouac desert base, located next to the lQasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem (Desert Challenge Founder, Presdent of Rally Organiers, the Automobile and Touring Club of UAE) says: “This is where the action really hots up, as the competitors learn all about the technical demands of racing among some of the world’s biggest sand dunes.”

2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Stage One Results:

1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 450, 3:33:22

2. Helder Rodrigue, Portugal, Yamaha, +01:09

3. Sam Sunderland, Britain, Honda +02:42

4. Paulo Goncalves. Portugal, Husqvarna +6:48

5. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM +10:29