After stage 2 Marc Coma is 2 minutes in the lead from KTM teammate Sam Sunderland.
The KTM Factory Rally riders got down to some serious desert racing on Sunday with the opening leg of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the first round of the 2014 World Cross Countries Rally Championship. Team rookie Sam Sunderland was the fastest home in the opening stage of 290 km, shadowed by 4-times Dakar winner Marc Coma just 34 seconds behind in second place.
Jordi Villadoms (Spain) and KTM supported rider Jakub Przygonski (Poland) came in at fifth and sixth, 11.12 and 15.06 off the pace set by Britain’s Sunderland. Sunderland and Coma are 1-2 in the overall standings after Leg One and Saturday’s prologue. the KTM Factory Team are competing on the 2014 KTM 450 Rally bike , the machine on which Coma took his fourth Dakar victory in January and KTM thirteenth.
Riders faced dauntingly high temperatures and demanding conditions through the dunes on Day One to signal that there is plenty more tough riding on the menu in the coming days. Leg Two on Monday is set to be a challenge with 494.82 km through the Emirates desert, including 269.67 km under the clock.
Marc Coma: “It was a good day for us today and the first day is very important to get the feeling for the desert back again. We are coming back to racing after some months since the Dakar, and I have had time to rest and get fit.
“The first day of the rally here in Abu Dhabi is always tricky because we are already in the dunes in the first kilometers but I am feeling good and I have a good feeling for the bike. Sam (Sunderland) opened the road today and he was very fast. We rode together and we had a good rhythm. Now it’s important to plan a good strategy for the coming days.”
The stage was marred by the fatal accident of a British rider Cameron Waugh who was found injured at the 155 km mark by KTM’s support rider Jakub Przygonski of Poland. Przygonski raised the alarm and performed CPR for 20 minutes on the victim. Waugh was airlifted to hospital some 13 minutes later but was pronounced dead on arrival.
KTM Racing joins Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the rally organizers in expressing condolences to the Waugh family. The president paid tribute to Przygonski, who he said “…. was heroic in the way he tried to save a fellow competitor.” Przygonski admitted to his team it had been a tough day and it had been difficult to concentrate after the accident.
Photos by Rallyzone.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Rally
Rd. 1 of the FIM World Cross Countries World Championship
Results Leg One (290 km)
1, Sam, Sunderland, GBR, KTM, 3 hours 29.47
2, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM, at 34 seconds
3, Paolo Goncalves, POR, Honda, at 2:44
4, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda, at 5:05
5, Jordi Villadoms, ESP KTM, at 11.12
6, Jakub Przygonski, POL, KTM, at 15.06
Overall Standings (after Leg One and Saturday’s Prologue)
1, Sunderland, KTM 3 hours 31.53
2, Coma, KTM at 34 seconds
3, Goncalves at 2.45
4, Barreda at 5.04