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Agony for Sunderland as bikes title slips away after technical infringement
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 11th April, 2013: Marc Coma edged his way to a record seventh win in the bikes class to complete a unique double triumph for Spain.
Coma’s bikes triumph came after HRC Honda’s Sam Sunderland collected a ten minute penalty overnight for a basic technical infringement, denying the Dubai-based British rider a brilliant start-to-finish victory as a reward for outshining the reigning world champion and a host of other stars of cross country rallying. Coma won by just 32 seconds from Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves.
Bitterly disappointed to have lost his chance of victory, Sunderland finished third and remained philosophical at the end.“It was a really good week for me but I made a big mistake yesterday,” he said. “During liaison I went to talk to the mechanic about my broken exhaust late in the race and after talking to him I forgot to go through the final two gates and got a ten minute penalty. I’m really gutted, but those are the rules.”
Coma, who has now won the Desert Challenge bikes title five years in a row, said: “I’m very happy to win but feel sorry for Sam because it was clear he was the fastest rider over the five days and deserved his victory. But those are the rules and we have to abide by them.
“For me I was just riding easy for the first three days and just trying to get used to the desert again. I rode harder today, but I knew I had to ride cleanly and not make any mistakes.”
Speedbrain Rally – Paulo Goncalves finishes runner-up at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge aboard Speedbrain 450 Rally. In the end the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was a nail-biter. Paulo Goncalves aboard his Speedbrain 450 Rally bike gave another brilliant performance in today´s closing leg of the prestigious desert race. The Portuguese captured the victory of stage five just ten seconds ahead of his arch rival Marc Coma, placing him second overall in this first round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship 2013.
Paulo Goncalves:“I gave everything today and I´m overwhelmed with the outcome. Winning the stage and taking second overall, that´s great. It was a Hitchcock-type affair really, and the smallest mistake could have ended my rally prematurely. I stayed cool though and got the job done. Unfortunately I missed the rally victory by a few seconds. But we showed we have front-runner capabilities and that our motorcycle works fine. I was confirmed that I can fully attack on the bike and run the speed of the very best. Many thanks to my team for their splendid job and sincere congratulations to Marc. We were fighting fair and square.”
Team leader Joan Barreda was forced to abandon the rally earlier when he reinjured his wrist – Joan Barreda: “Sorry. There´s not much more to say. I’m devastated for my fans and the whole team being forced out of the race at this early point. The situation actually wasn´t special. I landed after a jump and had to stop immediately. Apparently my wrist injury sustained at the Dakar isn´t completely healed up. There was no choice for me but to stop.”
HRC Honda Sam Sunderland -“Thanks for all the support. It has been great all week, the bike worked great and was going so perfect, But please remember no matter what the reason, it was still my mistake and the rules are the rules and I didn’t win but I learned and I will never make this mistake again. Thank you.”
Taddy Blazusiak – ” (I) ended up 7th at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. It was fun, learned a lot , still a lot more to learn… :)”
2013 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results
1. Marc Coma Camps (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 14:23.51
2. Paulo Goncalves (PRT) Speedbrain 450 Rally 14:24.23
3. Sam Sunderland (UAE) Honda CRF 450 X 14:32.36
4. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM 450 Rally 14:41.03
5. Jakub Przygonski (POL) KTM 450 Rally Replica 14:41.53
7. Juan Salvatierra Carlos (BOL) HM Honda CRE F 500 X 15:26.01