With all the top riders in attendance, the Sardinia Rally was the first time to see all the players and their new bikes. Both Despres and Gonclaves looked good on their new rides. It looks like we are in for some great action this year as both Honda and Yamaha look to improve their status on the rally and Dakar scene.
I am still not sure on the status of the Speedbrain team. Gonclaves and Barreda have signed with HRC, but are still flying the Speedbrain colors for now on the Honda. I don’t know yet if the team will continue to field Husqvarna based bikes in rallies this year or not. You might also notice that third place finisher Joan Pedrero is now riding a Beta, having apparently moved from KTM also.
From KTM – Marc Coma on Wednesday sealed victory in the Sardinia Rally to complete a hat trick of wins in this season’s FIM World Cross Country Rally Championship to have a perfect score card of 60 points.
With this win, KTM’s multiple Dakar Rally winner has laid the foundation to retain his title in the 2013 edition of the World Championships. The Spanish rider finished the five-stage rally a shade over seven minutes in front of Paolo Goncalves of Portugal and Joan Pedrero of Spain, making it a three way win for riders form the Iberian Peninsular. Coma’s old rival Cyril Despres was fourth.
The final day had a single timed special of 200 km and Coma said it had not been an easy win over the terrain that is more akin to Enduro riding than rally. He competed this time on the KTM 450 EXC and commented after the final leg: “200 km here in Sardinia is a bit like double that in the desert. It was four hours on the bike and it certainly wasn’t easy.” Coma was fifth in the final stage but his 9.5 minutes margin after Stage Four was enough to ensure the victory. His two KTM factory teammates Ruben Faria of Portugal and Jakub Przygonski of Poland finished 8 and 9 respectively.
Coma has little time to recover from the Sardinia Rally as the next leg in the World Championship, the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina, begins in 10 days time and runs from June 15-22.
Cyril Despres – “Of course I am disappointed to have missed the podium by just 11 seconds, over 5 days that’s nothing, a couple of micro-errors of navigation. But as they say in this game, ‘that’s rally-raid’, there are always plenty of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. At least I can console myself with the knowledge that I didn’t make many mistakes today and was able to fight hard all the way to the end. For me the rally was lost a couple of days ago and here, once you have given away time, it’s very hard to pull it back again.
Looking at the bigger picture, the really positive aspect of these last five days has been how good I have felt on my new bike. I’d only done a few practice hours on the Yamaha YZF450 before coming here but now I have a much better understanding of how the machine functions and coming away from Sardinia my impressions are extremely positive. Obviously there is plenty of work still left to do on our Dakar bike but both the Yamaha’s engine and chassis are really strong and those are the essential ingredients of any bike. Now we will go back to France and start getting ready for next month’s Rally dos Sertoes which is an event much closer, both geographically and in format, to the Dakar and therefore a much more useful open-air laboratory.”
Speak to you soon, Cyril
Speedbrain – Goncalves keeps podium streak, finishes runner-up at Sardinia .Paulo Goncalves underlined his top form on the final day of the Sardinia Rally. The Portuguese finished the closing stage from Sa Itria to San Teodoro in third place, giving him second place overall in this third round of the 2013 FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship. Goncalves has now finished all series rounds on the podium, right among the world´s very best rally racers.
Paulo improved his results with each day the race unfolded. The 34-year-old had to get used to his new Honda CRF450R, a bike that his Speedbrain team had specifically prepared for the Enduro-like terrain on the southern island.
Wednesday´s final confrontation presented the riders with the longest special stage of the whole event. It was mainly a fast affair, but again providing some Enduro elements. And it was once more important to remain concentrated and especially high alert in terms of navigation, as the competition was stacked behind race leader Marc Coma. Paulo rode smart and succcessfully defended his runner-up ranking, although he´s often rather seen as a desert fox and not so much as an Enduro specialist…
Paulo Goncalves: “I am obviously delighted to finish runner-up in this race. The terrain here at Sardinia usually isn´t my preferred enviromnent, but my Speedbrain team gave me a perfect bike. My regards to them, they did a great job in a very short amount of time. We all share this success!”
There is not much time to rest for Goncalves, the next world championship round in Argentina is right around the corner. This time back to more of a classic desert rally.
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 15:54.20 (wins by 7 minutes 05)
2, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Honda 16:01.25
3, Joan Pedrero, Spain, Beta, 16:01.36
4, Cyril Despres, France, Yamaha, 16:01.47
5, Alessandro Botturi, Italy, Yamaha, 16:02.00
6, Andreas Mancini, Italy, Beta, 16:04.172:21.46
7, Paolo Ceci, Italy, Yamaha, 16:04.18
8, Ruben Faria, Portugal KTM, 16:18.15
9, Jakub Przygonski, Poland, KTM, 16:38.24
10, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda, 16: 53.05