2014 Dakar Rally | Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma Overall VictoryThe 36th edition of the 2014 Dakar Rally provided the motorcycle field some new difficulties due to a slightly-different format – 40-percent of the times specials were completed on different terrain than the automobiles.
And following 5427 miles in 13 stages through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, one rider proved once again he’s a master of endurance off-road racing – Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma.The Spaniard rode with precision, and though he won only three of 13 stages, the KTM 450 Rally rider was able to finish 1 hour 52 minutes 27 seconds ahead of the field to take his fourth Dakar title. But it wasn’t only great news for the Catalan; this was also KTM’s 13th consecutive title.Coma had the overall lead for more than half of the rally, showing not only his physical strength but also his mental strength. Besides his three stage wins, he took four second-place and three third-place finishes.Coma described his Dakar experience as “an extreme and grueling Dakar,” and dedicated the win to “my friend Kurt Caselli.” Caselli, part of the Red Bull KTM Factory team was killed in the Baja 1000 in November.Marc Coma (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: “Without the right people behind me it would have been impossible to win. We have worked very well throughout the race and also before.“Last year I went through a very difficult situation not being able to compete because of injury and I came back to win the race. I think this says a lot about the people I have around me. I am very proud of this victory. What was key to winning the Dakar was not to make any mistakes.”Coma, who has been a KTM factory rider since 2003, took his first Dakar victory in Africa in 2006. He then repeated his success in 2009 and 2011 after the Dakar was relocated to South America. He did not compete in 2013 because of a shoulder injury sustained at the Morocco Rally.Coma would be joined on the overall podium by teammate Jordi Viladoms and Red Bull Yamaha’s Olivier Pain, respectively. This was Viladoms and Pain’s best-ever Dakar result finish.As for five-time Dakar winner Cyril Despres (2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013), who won the final stage (13), this was the first time the Red Bull Yamaha pilot finished outside the podium. This was also the first year he competed on a bike other than a KTM.All together, 196 motorcycles began the 2014 Dakar Rally – rightly dubbed the world’s toughest rally – 14 days ago (Sunday, Jan. 5), and only 78 finished.The 2014 Dakar Rally also claimed three lives. During stage six, Belgium rider Eric Palante (Honda) was found dead, though the circumstances of the 50-year-old’s death are still unknown. Two Argentina reports also died when a car rolled on them in a ravine – 20-year-old Agustin Mina and 51-year-old Daniel Ambrosio.Following is from the official 2014 Dakar Rally report:“Last year, leader Cyril Despres and his lieutenant Ruben Faria signed an amazing one-two for the KTM squad. It was with the same team spirit that Marc Coma grabbed his fourth overall win, escorted on the podium by his faithful lieutenant Jordi Viladoms, who had already stood at his side when he won in 2006 in 2009. Coma’s strategy, based on building an insurmountable lead over his rivals in one single special, has changed little since his last victory in 2011.“This time round, it was during the fourth day of racing, the second part of the marathon stage to Chilecito, that the comeback kid dealt a devastating blow by toppling Joan Barreda from the lead, while electronic problems scuttled Cyril Despres’ chances of victory. From then on, Coma focused on avoiding mistakes, while his rivals suffered more and more mishaps, mechanicals and errors… costing them hours in the overall.“The first two riders to drop out were those who stood next to Despres on last year’s podium, Ruben Faria and “Chaleco” López, who were knocked out by falls. Later on, during stage 5, world champion Paolo Gonçalves saw both his Honda and his hopes go up in flames.“At the time, a breath of fresh air from the Sherco camp compensated for all these disappointments. After alternating with teammate Juan Pedrero in the top places of the stages, Alain Duclos looked more and more like a serious podium contender, at least until the rest day. However, his Sherco’s engine gave in during stage 9 after a first scare two days earlier. Marc Coma was able to spend the last few days riding at his own pace and keeping an eye on distant pursuer Joan Barreda.“However, after climbing back to within half an hour of Coma due to the leader being handed down a penalty for an engine change, Barreda blew it exactly when it looked like he had finally learned to be consistent. The animator of this year’s edition and winner of four stages crumbled on the dunes of Copiapó the day before the finish, conceding over two hours and slipping to seventh overall.“Meanwhile, Cyril Despres continued Operation Comeback, gaining a few places in the classification for his troubles. The five-time winner, 12th at the end of stage 5 and 11th on the rest day, inched closer and closer to the top until he finished at the gates of the podium, just behind teammate Olivier Pain. Yamaha’s one-two in the third and fourth places is followed by an honourable Honda contingent, with Hélder Rodrigues in fifth, Joan Barreda in seventh and Daniel Gouet in eighth. Laia Sanz put the cherry on the Catalan take with a decent sixteenth place, one of the best results achieved by a female rider at the Dakar, after Christine Martin’s tenth place in 1981, Nicole Maitrot’s fourteenth in 1982 and Véronique Anquetil’s fifteenth in 1984.”2014 Dakar Rally Stage 13 Motorcycle Quotes:Marc Coma (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: “These are really strong, personal feelings. It represents a shedload of sacrifices and hard work. It’s an extreme race with ups and downs. Looking back, I remember being unable to start last year’s race.“And yet I’m here now, I’ve won. I’d like to thank those around me who made this comeback possible. Every time I win this rally, I say I’m going to savour it. I’ll do it with my loved ones, my family. I don’t know if I’ll ever win it again. I’ll try, I’ll work hard for it, but it’s a very complicated rally.”Jordi Viladoms (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: “I’m overwhelmed. It’s a big thing for me, especially after the year I went through. I’m over the moon with this result.”Olivier Pain (Red Bull Yamaha YZF 450 Rally) says: “This edition was filled with emotions and had a difficult first week. I gave it my all throughout the second week… and I achieved my objective, a podium place. I’d prepared for it, but the field was strong.“I was 40 minutes behind the podium on the rest day, and I spent all week long thinking of this. I inched closer to Jordi bit by bit, and then I benefitted from Joan’s bad luck yesterday. Then I had to see off Cyril… It was never easy. I wasn’t nervous this morning, just looking forward to the finish.”Cyril Despres (Red Bull Yamaha YZF 450 Rally) says: “I gave it my all until the end, but that’s racing. This is what I love about competing: never giving up. It was important for me to leave with no regrets. It was a fun, positive experience; another Dakar under my belt. We tried, we thought we could do it… and we learned lots of things. I can tell you it’s not easy to develop a motorcycle for the Dakar in a matter of months, but we tried.”2014 Dakar Rally Overall Motorcycle Results: