Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain made a solid start to the Morocco Rally on Saturday, the final rally in the 2014 FIM World Cross Country Rally Championship. He finished in third place just 1.51 minutes off Joan Barreda’s winning pace while Paolo Goncalves of Portugal was second fastest.
The stage covered 321 km with a timed special of 276 km and was between Erfoud and Damia. Coma is chasing the world championship title and went into the final round with a narrow, 10-point lead in the title chase.
With no prologue to define the starting order, riders started in the reverse order of the World Rally Championship points ranking and this put Coma back in fifteenth place at the start. He not only had to overtake a big number of other riders but also had to deal with very dusty conditions.
KTM’s multiple Dakar winner, a Red Bull-sponsored athlete was nevertheless satisfied with his first day out saying: “The main difficulty of the day was that I went out at fifteenth place and I had to overtake a lot of riders, because it was very dusty and very easy to make a navigational error. I started calmly and tried to work my way past riders without taking too many risks. By the time we got to the dunes the field had already stretched out a bit and I was able to ride at my own pace. Today was a good step forward. The most important thing is to continue to gather pace as the race progresses here in the desert of Morocco and to gradually move forward.”
The Morocco Rally also serves as a dress rehearsal for the Dakar Rally, which starts in Buenos Aires on January 3, 2015. To this end it was also a good day for other KTM factory riders. Portugal’s Ruben Faria finished fifth and is just under four minutes of the winning pace. Jordi Viladoms of Spain is in sixth place three minutes behind Faria. Chaleco Lopez of Chile, Poland’s Jakub Przygonski and Britain’s Sam Sunderland are well placed at places 7-9.
South African KTM rider Riaan van Niekerk wrapped up his day with a solid fourteenth to be still in the mix for a good result. Two younger KTM riders, Toby Price of Australia and Matthias Walkner of Austria, the latest signing to the official KTM factory team are on a steep learning curve and are busy dealing with the complex navigation process, this time using GPS. They finished a respectable fifteenth and nineteenth place respectively. Coma and the other KTM factory riders are competing on the KTM 450 Rally bike
Speaking of Walkner, KTM team coordinator Stefan Huber said: “Matthias has to learn the navigation and this is the first time he has been out with the GPS. But in the end he managed to get back safely and he now has a lot of respect for how fast the leading riders are going, especially while navigating.”
Stage two of the rally takes riders from Erfoud to Merzane over a total of 248km, which includes a timed special of 211 km.
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Please Note: KTM Results Service will be filed after each stage and there will be race reports at the beginning, middle and end of the rally.
KTM Results Service
Morocco Rally Stage 1
Erfoud to Damia
267 km timed special
Stage One Results
1, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda, 3 hours 04.11
2, Paolo Goncalves, POR, Honda, 3:06.00
3, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM 3:06.02
4, Helder Rodrigues, POR, Honda, 3:08.02
5, Ruben Faria, POR, KTM, 3:08.02
6, Jordi Viladoms, ESP, KRN 3:11.04
7, Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez, CHI, KTM 3:13.58
8, Jakub Przygonski, POL, KTM 3:18.56
9, Sam Sunderland, GBR, KTM 3:19.27
14, Riaan van Niekerk, RSA, KTM 3:32.36
15, Toby Price, AUS, KTM 3:42.37
19, Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTN 3:56.14