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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Marc Coma moves into the lead.

The Repsol rider, fourth on today`s stage, takes first overall position on the leaderboard with an advantage of 1 minute 17 seconds over the rest of the field

The second stage of the Rally Abu Dhabi brought a change in the leader, Marc Coma moved into provisional first position in the overall classification after a special of 296km which began to the north of the bivouac in Moreeb. The participants headed south-west but ended the race where it began and where they will spend the next two nights. Coma, who started the stage in second position after yesterday`s result, caught Cyril Despres at kilometre 60; a little later another KTM rider, Pal Ullevalseter joined them and the three travelled in a group until the end of the special.

The start of today`s stage was delayed as there was a lot of fog. This affected the rest of the special as the riders head to contend with the sun higher in the sky, this significantly spoilt their visibility especially those that began first and had to open up the tracks. Moreover, the strong sandstorm that has been affecting the zone in the last few days has changed some parts of the route and this meant extra care had to be taken. The wind has moved sand-dunes and the problem with the new dunes is that they usually have a more marked crest which makes them more danerous. Another change caused by the wind is the formation of tongues of sand on the fastest tracks. As they appear from one day to the next the danger is not indicated in the roadbook provided by the organisers and that means that the riders have to be very cautious at all times.

Tomorrow sees the third special stage of the rally, another loop, this time of 340 kilometres against the clock, starting and finishing in Moreeb.

“Today was the first complicated stage of this rally. What is more the strong sandstorm we had yesterday made a things a bit more difficult because it moved some dunes and left some tongues of sand across the tracks. I have moved into the lead but getting a win here will be quite difficult.

As the starting order is in play - with Cyril [Despres] one day we win gain a couple of minutes on him but on the next he may win them back – and so he has an advantage on the stages that are left. We will have to try and break out of this situation but it will be difficult, because tomorrow we have another hard day ahead of us as well, the longest in fact, and on a similar type of terrain, with new sand-dunes and tongues of sand across the tracks. Today I am a little tired because it is very hot and in this rally the second day is always the one that take it out of you. I suppose I need to get acclimatised. Tomorrow is another day, and I hope that things change,”
said Marc Coma.

1. Sean GAUGAIN (HONDA) 4:24.24
2. Pal ULLEVALSETER (KTM) 4:28.53
3. Jakub PRZYGONSKI KTM) 4:30.29
4. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 4:30.36
5. Cyril DESPRES (KTM) 4:32.34

2009/03/25 | 23:29 CET | Editor: MR/Repsol/Rita Konya

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