KTM factory rider Marc Coma (Spain) once again proved he is the supremo in the sand when he took a decisive victory in the Abu Dhabi Challenge, the first round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship on Friday. KTM Factory teammate Ruben Faria finished fourth
After five days powering his KTM 450 Rally bike over tough desert terrain and in extreme summer temperatures often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, KTM’s three-times Dakar Rally winner delivered all the necessary ingredients to lift the trophy. Fast on some days, cautious on others to avoid risks, putting on the pressure when it was necessary: Coma applied just the right formula to set himself up for victory. Then on the final leg he delivered all of the above and whatever else that was necessary to underscore that he is not only a sensational rider but also a wily tactician.
Coma oscillated between winning legs and finishing back in the pack for a good start position the following day. On Day Four he finished a cautious eleventh in the special but safeguarded his overall lead of 6.5 minutes. He said that barring something dramatic happening, he felt the team had the win in the bag.
The final day was a high-speed dash through the desert complete with camels on the track as riders headed back to the capital and the ceremonial finish adjacent to the marina from where they first started. On the way Coma managed to accrue another three minutes on his opponents to finish in 20 hours 33 minutes 35, some 9 minutes 33 in front of Spanish rider Joan Barreda. Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves was third. KTM riders took the next three places with Ruben Faria fourth, Jordi Villadoms of Spain in fifth and Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski sixth overall. Przgonski’s ORLEN teammate Marek Dabrowski rode his KTM to victory in the Open Class.
The rally was intense and strength sapping but the riders have little time to recover. The next round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship starts in Qatar on April 17, 2012.