Four times Dakar winner Marc Coma has spent the first two days of the Sardinia Rally Race, the third of the four round 2012 World Cross Country Rally Championship to consolidate his position near the front of the pack.
The Spanish KTM factory rider was third after the opening day and moved to second place overall today. He now trails the current leader Jordi Villadoms, another Spanish KTM, rider by 5.5 minutes. The leader after the first day, Alessandro Botturi of Italy has dropped to third while Coma’s main rival, Yamaha rider Helder Rodrigues of Portugal is now fourth and has made a good recovery after being back in the field in day one.
Coma admitted after day two that he had some difficulties in the off piste sections and made some navigation errors that cost him time. He also said he was having some grip problems and admitted he would have to push hard on day three to put himself in an advantageous position for the rest of the event.
Coma is a rider who plays his cards close to the chest. Navigation and tactics play an important role in this rally, but these are skills that Coma has in abundance. The terrain is quite dramatically different from the earlier rounds of the championship, both of which have been won by Coma. The difference here is that Coma has left his 450 rally bike at home and is instead on a KTM 450 EXC, the same Enduro bike used by E2 KTM factory rider Johnny Aubert, considered to be better suits the range of terrain that this rally offers.
Riders embarked on the opening stages on Monday in blazing heat to complete the circular leg of 325 km starting and finishing in on San Teodoro. Coma started at third and was content to play the role of master tactician.
Meanwhile his Dakar ‘water carrier’ Joan Pedrero and teammate Ruben Faria of Portugal complete the official KTM factory lineup in the rally and after Day 1 were at five and seven in a cluster of six of the lead group within 3.3 minutes of each other on day one. After Day two they had dropped to positions eight and ten.
Unluckier was KTM regular Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygoński who had a minor crash on Day One while checking his road book at high speed finished back at ninth. He lost time but was uninjured to be quite satisfied with his result and on Monday drifted further down the order. The opening day gave KTM eight of the top ten spots, seven of which they still had after the second day.
After winning the first two rallies in the championship, Coma does have a theoretical mathematical chance of taking the title but he does have another chance in Rd. 4 later this year, the final in the series.
Day One of Sardinia Rally
1. Alessandro Botturi, Italy, KTM after day one 2:52.53.28
2. Jordi Villadoms, Spain, KTM at 1.11.75
3. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 1.29.45
4. Joan Barreda, Spain, Husqvarna at 1.42.01
5. Joan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 2.41.09
6. Gerard Farres, Spain, KTM at 3.30.07
7. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM at 3:30.07
8. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 6.14.68
9. Jakub Przygonski, Poland, KTM at 8.49.40
Overall times after Day Two
1. Jordi Villadoms, Spain, KTM 5:59.10.07
2. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 5.29.15
3. Alessandro Botturi, Italy, KTM at 6.01
4. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 6.09.50
5. Gerard Farres, Spain, KTM at 6:45.45
6. Paulo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna at 9.29.97
7. Paolo Ceci, Italy, KTM at 9.51
8. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM at 10.40.82
9. Stephane Peterhansel, France, Yamaha at 12.42.31
10. Joan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 14.20.48
Images courtesy of KTM