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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Coma back in the lead with tactical riding.

The third and final loop of this year`s Rally Abu Dhabi, with start and finish in Moreeb, ended with Marc Coma at the top of the overall leaderboard again. The Repsol rider did not force the pace today, but rode thinking about how to get a good starting position for tomorrow`s decisive stage. This is why he finished the fourth stage in eighth place, 6 minutes 14 seconds behind the stage winner; but what is more relevant, 2 minutes 12 seconds ahead of Cyril Després, a result that took him back to the top of the classification.

Strategy was once again to the fore. Knowing that today he would start behind Despres and so regain the two minute lead he had over him the Repsol rider did not want to set a fast pace and so win the stage as that would mean he would have to open up the tracks on Friday. His tactics worked, he caught his rival recovering the gap of over two minutes, but without getting a good final position on the stage. The weather once again complicated things quite a bit on what was the final long stage in this rally, whose timed section had a length of 314km. The bikes first had to contend with fast tracks - tongues of wind-blown sand once more made this section very dangerous – then the riders returned towards Moreeb through the open desert across new sand-dunes with their steep slopes which had to be taken with special care.
With just one stage remaining before the end of this the first round of the World Cross Country Championship an exciting final day is guaranteed; Marc Coma will start with a lead of 1 minute 50 seconds over Cyril Despres in the overall who will start 2 minutes behind the Spanish Repsol rider.

“Everything went well today, but tomorrow I did not want to open up the tracks so today was a day for tactics. The sandstorm came back to life, and although the special was not difficult in itself it made riding more complicated.

It reduced our visibility and it was like riding in fog, and it gets everywhere - on your glasses, inside your jacket… - it makes things very uncomfortable. What is more, it created new tongues of sand on the tracks, and the sand-dunes end up with steep slopes. Tomorrow we have the final special section, and I start ahead of Cyril. If he catches me he wins, if he doesn`t, I do. We will fight to make sure that does not happen although starting behind me he has a little advantage,” said Marc Coma.


Stage Classification
1. Obaid ECHTIBI (HONDA) 4:19.34
2. Sean GAUGAIN (HONDA) 4:19.53
3. Jakub PRZYGONSKI (KTM) 4:20.17
4. Sebastian HUSSEINI (KTM) 4:21.33
5. Marc ACKERMAN (KTM) 4:23.06
8. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 4:25.48

1. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 16:36.23
2. Cyril DESPRES (KTM) + 1.50
3. Pal ULLEVALSETER (KTM) + 9.35
4. Sean GAUGAIN (HONDA) + 21.51
5. Jakub PRZYGONSKI (KTM) + 30.33

2009/03/27 | 03:50 CET | Editor: MR/Repsol/Rita Konya

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