|Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Sunderland leading in front of Coma, Goncalves.|
It was a classic day of desert rallying at its spectacular best, as the 38 surviving cars and 48 bikes and quads followed a dramatic trail through mighty dunes in the UAE’s Western Region of Al Garbia.
With two more stages remaining, only 52 seconds separate the top three riders in the bikes category after Tuesday´s SS03. Sam Sunderland (KTM) now leads the bikes category by 30 seconds from team-mate and seven-times winner, Marc Coma of Spain, with Portugal’s reigning FIM world champion, Paulo Goncalves (Honda HRC), breathing down their necks.
"I caught Marc Coma after about 80 km and then made the pace up until refuel," said the Dubai-based British youngster Sam Sunderland after the stage. "Then the Honda guys caught us towards the end so we just chilled a bit and let them make the pace." For Sunderland its the first rally in the KTM-Factory team.
Marc Coma, the reigning Dakar Rally champion, commented: "Today I started first and I knew I would lose time. I went over a big jump at the start which left me a bit sore but I'm ok. The bike is going really well and everything is good."
Actual FIM World Champion Paulo Goncalves was second fastest on the day behind Honda team-mate Joan Barreda, who is now in fourth place overall. "Me and Barreda finally caught the two KTM guys," said Goncalves. "Now we have two stages to go and we are really confident. We are very happy with the new bikes in the desert and are not too far behind the leaders overall. But we will have to ride very fast to catch them at the end." Barreda added: "It was good today, I’m really happy. I pushed hard in the early part to catch Paulo and then pushed to catch the KTM riders."
Carrying the flag for the UAE in the bikes category, Mohammed Al Balooshi finished 7th today and is also 7th in the overall rankings. "Today was the best day for me so far. It was very fast and tricky, the way I like it, and I finally found my rhythm. Even though I had good times the last two days I really felt that I was riding my bike perfectly today. It's thanks to my whole team and sponsors that I'm here, and I'm really looking forward to finishing the challenge in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. It's a shame that I'm the only Emirati riding in the rally this week, but I'm riding for my country today and I'm very happy overall."
Poland’s reigning world champion Rafal Sonik now leads the quads category by 34 minutes from Russian rider Sergey Karyakin, with last year’s winner, Qatari Mohammed Abu Isa, in third place. "Today I saw one of the helicopters and its rotors were not moving, and so I was very peaceful," the Pole reported. "It meant that there were no incidents and they had nothing to do which is good news. As far as the stage goes it was the nicest for so far."
Top 10 stage results BIKES SS 03 Tuesday
01) Barreda, Joan (ES) I Honda I 03:20:02 I 00:00:00
02) Goncalves, Paulo (PT) I Honda I 03:21:07 I 00:01:05
03) Sunderland, Sam (UK) I KTM I 03:23:06 I 00:03:04
04) Coma, Marc (ES) I KTM I 03:25:01 I 00:04:59
05) Rodrigues, Helder (PT) I Honda I 03:28:53 I 00:08:51
06) Viladoms, Jordi (ES) I KTM I 03:30:41 I 00:10:39
07) Albalooshi, Mohammed (UAE) I KTM I 03:40:35 I 00:20:33
08) Stanovnik, Miran (SLO) I KTM I 03:42:26 I 00:22:24
09) Karcher, Kristian (D) I YAMAHA I 03:48:01 I 00:27:59
10) Nikihkin, Aleksei (RUS) I Honda I 03:48:35 I 00:28:33
Top 10 overall results BIKES SS 03 Tuesday
01) Sunderland, Sam (UK) I KTM I 10:33:00 I 00:00:00
02) Coma, Marc (ES) I KTM I 10:33:30 I 00:00:30
03) Goncalves, Paulo (PT) I Honda I 10:33:52 I 00:00:52
04) Barreda, Joan (ES) I Honda I 10:40:39 I 00:07:39
05) Viladoms, Jordi (ES) I KTM I 11:04:19 I 00:31:19
06) Stanovnik, Miran (SLO) I KTM I 11:53:41 I 01:20:41
07) Albalooshi, Mohammed (UAE) I KTM I 11:59:39 I 01:26:39
08) Nikihkin, Aleksei (RUS) I Honda I 12:21:50 I 01:48:50
09) Rodrigues, Helder (PT) I Honda I 12:29:02 I 01:56:02
10) Karcher, Kristian (D) I YAMAHA I 12:31:30 I 01:58:30
2014/04/08 | 19:10 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/ADDC