|AD Desert Challenge: Marc Coma takes fourth victory in Desert Challenge.|
KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain has opened his account in the competition for Rally World Champion in style on Thursday when he won the Desert Challenge in Abu Dhabi for the fourth time. Coma dominated the open class, 2-wheel category on his KTM 690 rally bike throughout the five stage event on the shifting sands. But he was closely shadowed especially in the final two days and had to fight hard to convert his 10-minute lead into overall victory in the open class.
Britain's James West, also a KTM rider, rode to a valiant second overall after a fast and furious final stage. David Casteu (Sherco) was third overall. Sean Gaugain of South Africa (Honda) had looked set for a minor place but crashed and broke his leg in the final stage.
After securing a tactical starting position after the opening Super Special Coma edged ahead on day one and took the stage victory by five minutes. Riders had to cope with hot and humid weather on day two which saw Coma finish the stage in fifth but with still enough advantage to maintain his overall lead albeit trimmed to just 3 minutes.
By the end of Stage 3, Coma had extended his overall lead to 12 minutes as riders battled their way through sand storms and high winds. Coma went on to conquer the tough weather conditions and the dunes in the last two stages to claim the victory and top the podium for the fourth time.
Coma and fellow KTM factory rider Cyril Despres are the dominant international riders in international rally and are both multiple winners of this event. But Despres decided not to compete this year after having already won the event five times. Coma has also won here in Abu Dhabi in 2009, 2007 and 2006.
Riders onboard the Austrian sports motorcycle manufacturer's bike have dominated the Desert Challenge going back to Austrian Heinz Kinigadner's victory in 1998 and have won every year except in 2000.
This year the competition covered more than 2,000 km through spectacular desert terrain to once again underline that this really is the Desert Challenge.
Final positions after Leg 5 - Cars
01) Leonid Novitskiy / Andy Schulz I 21:32:27
02) Laurent Rosso / Francois Borsotto I 26:43:03
03) Abdul Bari-Bin Sugat / Ali Mirza I 34:40:00
Final positions after Leg 5 - Bikes
01) Marc Coma I 20:26:09
02) James West I 20:47:48
03) David Casteau I 20:57:05
2010/04/02 | 20:55 CET | ARTICLE: MR/KTM