|SA-Dakar: Marc Coma wins 2011 Dakar Rally; 10 consecutive titles for KTM.|
KTM factory rider Marc Coma rode into Buenos Aires in triumph on Saturday as the 2011 winner of the South America Dakar Rally. It was the Spanish rider's third Dakar title and the tenth consecutive prize for KTM and a triumphant debut for the newly developed KTM 450 Rally bike ridden by all four of KTM's factory riders.
Fellow KTM factory rider Cyril Despres, the title holder going into the Dakar, fought the good fight right up until the finish, was second overall. He trailed Coma by just over 15 minutes after 9600 km of competitive riding over the most challenging terrain possible.
Considering that Despres incurred a 10-minute penalty in the early part of the race, he and Coma rode on equal terms throughout the 13 stages and frequently finished only minutes apart. Indeed in the penultimate stage there was only 37 second separating the two riders at the end of the day. Between them Coma and Despres took victory in eight of the 13 stages - Coma won five stages and Despres won three.
Coma was a worthy overall winner of the 33rd edition of the race that took competitors in a huge sweep through Argentina, across the Andes at 4500 m altitude into northern Chile and up to the border with Peru, over a number of stages in the notoriously dry Atacama Desert, back across the Andes and through Argentina to the finish in the capital.
"Staying focused was essential so I did focus on my riding. It was the only way to win" said Coma. "What was really tough was that I could not let my guard down, not even for a second. When a tough stsge was ending, the next one was even tougher" the Spaniard said.
"We all know that a Dakar is a difficult race but this year it was particularly difficult. This victory is the reward of all the hard work, the reward of many years and a lot of tensions over the last few days. It is the bonus you get for steering right and for so many sacrifices over the years."
Cyril Despres had a fight to the end: "The feeling of finishing a Dakar is always nice especially here with all the people welcoming you. I am sad I could not do better. I have raced 11 Dakar, won three and been on the podium eight times. One more would have been great. But I just could not make any better."
Another great result also came from the two co-riders to the leading KTM factory riders. Juan Pedrero of Spain, the water carrier for Coma, finished overall fifth and Ruben Faria who served the same function for Despres was seventh overall. The domination of the brand is further underlined by the fact that nine of the top 11 riders were on the Austrian-made bikes.
2011/01/18 | 12:42 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/KTM