KTM’s Coma Launches Rally Season with Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Factory KTM’s Marc Coma News
During last October’s Morocco Rally, which many consider testing grounds for the Dakar Rally, Factory KTM’s Marc Coma suffered a crash that required shoulder surgery.
The Spaniard’s recovery went longer than expected, and the three-time Dakar winner was forced to miss the 2013 Dakar Rally, which was won by his former teammate, Cyril Despres.
But the extended recovery period has allowed Coma to be fit for the 2013 FIM Cross Countries Rally Championship, which gets underway in April with the 23rd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (April 6-11) and the Sealine Rally in Qatar (April 21-26).
Coma is currently in the United Arab Emirates training for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge aboard his KTM 450 Rally bike. Coma has won the Desert Challenge six times, including the past four consecutive meets.
Marc Coma (Factory KTM 450 Rally) says: “We have tested in the desert of Tunisia but it has been a long break because of my injury and this is the right opportunity to see how fit I am, how quickly I can find my rhythm and get a good feeling for the bike. It will be difficult to win after such a long break but as always I will do my best.”
Joining Coma on the factory KTM team during the Desert Challenge will be two Polish riders – Coma’s teammate Jakub Przygonski and KTM’s extreme Enduro factory rider Taddy Blazusiak, who contests a rally for the first time to stay in shape ahead of the highly competitive EnduroCross season.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge takes riders over 1200 miles through the spectacular desert terrain of the Western Region of Al Garbia, and starts with a super special stage on Yas Ialand, Abu Dhabi, on Saturday, April 6, followed by five days of competitive desert stages. The rally starts and finishes at the Yas Marina Circuit and again takes competitors into the famed Liwa Desert.
Sealine Cross Country Rally Follows Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
KTM reports riders will barely have time to draw breath after the Desert Challenge before they decamp for Qatar and the second round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship. The Sealine Cross-Country Rally was staged for the first time in 2012 and coma returns here as the defending champion.
For this rally the KTM factory riders are to be joined by Chilean Chaleco Lopez, while Blazusiak refocuses his attention on the coming EnduroCross season. Lopez, third on an all KTM podium at the conclusion of the Dakar 2013, together with KTM’s Cyril Despres and Ruben Faria is no stranger to sweeping desert sands. He will be just at home in this Gulf States desert as he is in the desert coastal plain of his home country, KTM says.
This year organizers report that the Sealine Rally will be fought over four desert selective sections and will feature a longer route over a total of 1500 km but a shorter timetable from April 22-26. The first three legs will be around 400 km and the final leg for the bikes of 250 km and organizers report there will be plenty of new tracks, more offroad sections and more tricky navigation. There will be a ceremonial start on Monday evening and the first of the four desert legs starts on Tuesday morning. The rally concludes on Friday, KTM says.
Coma, even though the desert sands seem to be his natural habitat, underlined that the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Sealine Rally are ‘the toughest’ of the World Championship series, KTM says.
Marc Coma says: “Conditions here are tough for racing and the high temperatures also make it very difficult. It’s going to be a good test of my fitness.”
2013 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship Calendar
- April 6-11: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, United Arab Emirates
- April 21-26: Sealine Cross Country Rally, Qatar
- May 31 – June 5: Sardegna Cross Country Rally, Sardinia, Italy
- June 16-22: Desafio Ruta 40, Argentina
- July 23-August 4: Rally Dos Sertoes, Brazil
- September 28-October 10 Pharaoh’s Rally, Egypt