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Interview: The three time World Champion speaks about the desert.

After the podium ceremony of the Pharaons Rally 2007 with the incredible pyramids of Giza in the background, the recently proclaimed World Raid Champion 2007 was able to enjoy all mod cons and a well-deserved shower and "real food" at the Hotel Intercontinental Pyramids in Cairo. After a week of sand, dust, heat, tents and the total concentration necessary to tackle a race like the Pharaohs Rally, we sat down with the Repsol KTM Team Marc Coma rider to speak about the 2007 season and the immediate future, looking forward to the Dakar 2008.

MR: You are World Raid Champion for the third consecutive time and winner of the Pharaohs Rally as well. Without doubt a good haul...

"Yes, I suppose that winning the el Pharaohs Rally for the third time and getting the world title is fantastic! Above all today with a beautiful finish in front of the pyramids of Giza. That made it even more emotional; it is difficult to explain. Let`s see if we can continue working to get even more prizes and titles."

MR: Your domination of the World Raid Championship was absolute. You won the four races you entered.

"Yes the complicated thing in the World Raid Championship is that we are used to African terrain, and in the World Raid Championship we get races on all the continents. From South America, Africa, Europe, and with different organisations which makes being competitive on all types of terrains and in all types of situations difficult. It seems we have got the knack and we hope it lasts."

MR: After what happened in the Dakar, about to win and then you had to retire after a fall... Did you get nervous in Egypt today?

"Yes. The truth is whether you want to or not when you are close to winning a world title and in a race as important as the Pharaohs Rally I would be lying if I said I was not nervous. The last day is always complicated, and perhaps we are used to the final stage being a formality but today that was not the case. We did 330 kilometres with a very complicated part due to the navigation, and that means you have to keep your concentration."

MR: Your teammate in the Repsol KTM Team Jordi Viladoms has had an impeccable Pharaohs Rally, even more so taking into account what he has suffered this year, a fall in the Dakar, and then a long recovery...

"I am very happy for him since this result will give him a lot of confidence. He has had a difficult year recovering from the injuries he got in the Dakar, but I think that after a lot of hard work he has fully recovered. I think he is on the right lines and I hope he does not have another setback betweeen now and the Dakar so he can start with all the strength needed for that race."

MR: Which of the three titles is our favourite: the 1st, 2nd or 3rd one?

"The first is always special and the second came in a strange way. And this one I dominated more than in the others. I think they all have something special."

MR: The bike you rode, Is it the same that you had in the Dakar, or is it an evolution, or is it similar to the one you will have in the 2008 edition?

"The big developments came last year when we used the new bike for the first time. This year as the season passed some modifications were made to try and solve the small problems we had in the last Dakar, and there are always new things to try out. In spite of biggest developments coming last year when the bike was changed completely, this year we will go with that base but with some new modifications."

MR: How would you classify the work done by the Repsol KTM Team in all the success that Marc Coma has got?

"It is very significant, without the team of professionals such as the one we have, it would be impossible to get all these titles. It is true that the cameras only focus on the rider, but there are many people involved, and everybody does the work in the field they are responsible for. The mechanics, and the team bosses, and the managers. All of them know what to do and nobody is expendable."

MR: In the world of raids, Is it the case that you are racing against yourself more than against the other riders?

"Yes, more than racing against yourself it is against the race itself. In itself it is a formidable rival. So what is important is that nothing bad happens to you during the whole race and that you have no problems; that lets you concentrate on beating the race, and from that point you look to see where your rivals are."

MR: Let`s turn to how the first half of the season went: first was the Dakar and a disappointment, not winning what looked to be a cert and then Tunisia, was it a good way to pick yourself up, get back on the bike and show that Coma was still around and still a competitive rider?

"The truth is that few things changed compared to last year and we are making a preparation that is very similar so that we go to the Dakar 2008 in good form. The results have been good and that is the best way to demonstrate that we are working well. From that point on what can happen in the Dakar or what does not happen are very complicated things and as always we will go to the Dakar to do our best and try to do things in the best possible way."

MR: You have not coincided with Cyril Despr├Ęs in any race this year, the winner of this year`s Dakar and undoubtedly the man to beat in the next one. This is a strange situation is it not?

"The team and the sponsors and ourselves evaluate and decide the objectives and interests we may have during the year, and so we chose a series of races that did not coincide with his. We decided on what was convenient for our preparation and what would do us most good. He will decide his own plan. Coinciding with him really does not matter, and we will see what happens in the Dakar. What we have to do is concentrate on our work and that is everything."

MR: Wouldn`t you have liked to have coincided in at least one race to see the level each one has?

"The truth is that I do not think about it much. As I said, I like to concentrate on my way of working, on what makes the team tick and if there are things that can be improved, working to progress. What the other riders do will be seen in the races. For the time being we have to think only about ourselves."

MR: From now to the end of the year there is the Rally Dubai and I suppose some tests before the Dakar 2008 arrives...

"Yes, from here to the start of the Dakar 2008 we have the Rally Dubai scheduled. That is a good test, because there we will have many dunes and what is more we will take advantage of the stay there to get the bike set up for sandy conditions. Afterwards we will do other tests on hard ground, to bring an end to the work on the bike and so go to the start of the Dakar 2008 in perfect conditions."

2007/10/10 | 12:36 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Repsol

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