KTM’s Marc Coma is the first to admit that a rally is never over until you cross the finish line, but on Tuesday he gained another four minutes over the rest of the field to go into the final stage of the 2013 Sardinia rally with a 9 minutes 36 advantage over second placed Paolo Goncalves.
On a day that took riders across from one side of the Italian island to the other over 303 km and two timed specials of 120 km and 82 km, KTM’s Spanish multi-Dakar winner finished well placed for tomorrow’s final stage. If he wins the rally he will have a hat trick of victories and will have laid the groundwork to retain his FIM World Cross Country Rally Championship title once again. Coma has already secured the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Sealine Rally in Qatar in March to have a perfect scorecard for the season.
On Tuesday Coma was fastest over the longer of the two timed specials and placed seventh in the second. While he has a small cushion of time going into the 325 km ride on Wednesday, of which there is a make-or-break 211 km of timed special, there will be a hard fight behind him with no less than six riders within three minutes of each other.
Coma said he was happy to have won some time advantage on Tuesday. “It is never easy when you have to open the stage and the first timed special was long and very difficult especially with the navigation. It was a long way to ride and of course you get tired mentally and it is hard to maintain your rhythm and keep pushing.”
It was also a better day for his two teammates. Ruben Faria of Portugal moved up one place into eighth even after he stopped to give assistance to Italian Alessandro Botturi and Polish rider Jakub Przygonski advanced to the top ten.
The final stage takes riders from San Itrea to San Teodoro.
Results Stage 4
(Overall aggregate times after Tuesday’s two timed specials)
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 12:10.00 (now leads by 9 minutes 36)
2, Paolo Goncalves, Protugal, Honda 12:19.26
3, Cyril Despres, France, Yamaha, 12:19.48
4, Joan Pedrero, Spain, Beta, 12:20.40
5, Paolo Ceci, Italy, Yamaha, 12:21.12
6, Andreas Mancini, Italy, Beta, 12:21.46
7, Alessandro Botturi, Italy, Yamaha, 12:22.26
8, Ruben Faria, Portugal KTM, 12:28.54
9, Damien Miguel, France, Yamaha, 12:35.31
10, Jakub Przygonski, Poland, KTM, 12:45.38
Images courtesy KTM Racing