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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Marc Coma stays in the fight for the victory.

The longest stage in this year`s Rally Abu Dhabi went as many expected it to, with Marc Coma who started in fourth position, fighting to get away from those chasing him from the very first kilometre and so break the dynamics of the race. However, in this type of race it is complicated when a rider has to open up the tracks and at the same time prevent the riders behind him from making up lost ground because with the reference of the rider in front they have things easier; they can ride more comfortably and more safely.

The Repsol rider saw how the dynamics of the race were at kilometre 70 when Cyril Despres caught him up, erasing the lead that the Spanish rider had over him in the overall classification. But far from resigning himself to the dynamic Coma upped the pace and towards the end had built up a lead of one minute, that is until a problem on the bike`s exhaust made him slow down. In the end he crossed the finishing line with just a ten second advantage over Despres.

Today`s 340 kilometre special, unlike yesterday`s, was on a terrain that was much more open but still in the desert of the Arab Emirates. Something which meant the bikes could go quite a bit faster. The riders headed west at first and then turned south, then finally they returned towards Moreeb. Towards the end of the stage the terrain changed and the riders had to go on a more technical and physically demanding section which made them ride standing up without any chance of a rest.

Tomorrow sees another loop around Moreeb, with a timed special of 314km, and the final stage in the open desert before they return to the capital, Abu Dhabi on Friday, where the final finishing line is.

“Overall I am pleased, because today I was able to ride in my own way and not so badly affected by the heat, concentrating on the race and giving my all.

This type of short rally means that if nothing strange happens over the next few days that are left, it will be very difficult to win the rally. I tried to get into the lead and set a fast pace and so leave my rivals behind but at kilometre 70 Cyril caught me up. Towards the end I had built up a lead of one minute, but then I had a problem with the exhaust, and that made me lose quite a bit of power, that meant that he was able to catch me again and recover the time he had lost,” said Coma.

1. Cyril DESPRES (KTM) 4:42.36
2. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 4:44.23
3. Pal ULLEVALSETER (KTM) 4:51.32
4. Mark ACKERMAN (KTM) 4:53.34
5. Sean GAUGAIN (HONDA) 4:55.39

2009/03/26 | 02:06 CET | Editor: MR/Repsol/Rita Konya

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