From KTM – Red Bull KTM’s four-times Dakar Rally winner Marc Coma of Spain wrapped up his 2014 Rally season in style on Thursday taking victory in the Morocco Rally, the final round of the FIM World Cross Countries Rally Championship and securing the world title.
Coma, a Red Bull sponsored athlete went into the final round with a narrow lead in the points over Portugal’s Paolo Goncalves but had effectively settled the title issue after Wednesday’s fifth stage after his rival Paolo Goncalves crashed and had to retire. KTM Factory rider Sam Sunderland finished second overall for one of his best results since joining the team. Helder Rodrigues of Portugal was third.
Stefan Pierer CEO of KTM Sport Motorcycles AG: “Victory for Marc Coma and the KTM Rally Team in the World Championship is extremely important for KTM. Rally sport is and remains the core of our philosophy and represents the very essence of our activities. With Marc Coma, our winning rally bike and our entire team we have once again proven that we have the strongest structure. The World Championship title is not only the perfect incentive but also for our Rally Department, it signals the start of Dakar 2015.”
Marc Coma:“We know that the Morocco Rally is one of the toughest on the calendar so we came with tactics not to take any risks for the championship. But the feeling is amazing and it’s been a special week full of emotions because I had my birthday, then I won the title and today the win in the rally. To be six-times world champion is not easy. There is a lot of work behind it.” Coma and his KTM factory teammates compete on the KTM 450 Rally bike.
Coma finished the six stage Morocco Rally with a stage score of 3-2-5-1-8-7. He took the overall lead in stage two and then again from the final three stages. In stage three he also successfully put behind him the memories of a crash in 2012 in this rally where he sustained an injury that kept him from defending his Dakar title January 2013.
Victory in the final round concludes a great season for the KTM Factory rider. He won his fourth Dakar title in January, took second place in the first three rounds of the World Championship, the Desert Challenge (Abu Dhabi), the Sealine Rally (Qatar) and Sardinia Rally (Italy). He then won the Rally dos Sertoes in Brazil before bringing his season to a successful conclusion this week in Morocco.
Also impressive were the debut rides in international rally by Australia’s Toby Price (eighth overall) and the factory team’s latest signing, Austria’s Matthias Walkner who finished eleventh. Their solid results indicates that the KTM factory team also has the next generation on its radar screen.
From Honda – The OiLybia Rally of Morocco drew to a close today in Marrakech with Joan Barreda taking the honours in the sixth and final stage. The Spaniard managed a fourth overall in spite of his final position being marred by a weighty penalty handed down earlier in the week. Fellow Team HRC rider Helder Rodrigues occupied the third step of the final podium, while Laia Sanz finished top female with tenth place on the final table.
Helder Rodrigues, as yesterday’s winner, landed the tricky job of leading out in today’s 113 km special. On the menu was fast, mainly flat track – at times wide, at others potholed – with a fair serving of dust. The Portuguese rider battled successfully to fend off his adversaries in the chase for the final podium place.
The stage winner was Joan Barreda who was fastest in five of the six stages in Morocco, setting a blistering pace which the others were unable to maintain. Nevertheless, Barreda had been hit with several penalties for excess speed that stopped him finishing higher on the overall final leader-board, narrowly missing a podium place by one minute. He closes the World Championship in 4th place.
Laia Sanz once again shone. Spain’s champion clinched not only victory in the female category, but posted a notable tenth place in the stage. Jeremías Israel was unable to start today, after having suffered a mechanical setback shortly after setting off from Zagora yesterday, which saw the rider obliged to return directly to the bivouac.
Paulo Goncalves was forced to abandon the race yesterday after a crash left him nursing a broken rib. The Portuguese rider headed back home to begin his convalescence ahead of the next big challenge: Dakar 2015. He finish the season as runner-up in the 2014 FIM World Championship Cross-Country Rallies.
Morocco Rally Stage 6 (Final Stage)
1, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda, 1 hour 26.16
2, Sam Sunderland, GBR, KTM at 2.07
3, Ruben Faria, POR, KTM at 5.41
4, Jordi Viladoms, ESP, KTM at 5.51
5, Chaleco Lopez, CHI, KTM at 06.29
6, Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM at 6.32
7, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM at 6.37
8, Toby Price, AUS, KTM at 6.41
9, Helder Rodrigues, Honda at 6.45
10, Jakub Przygonski, POL, KTM at 12.13
Overall standings after Stage 6 1, Coma 17 hours 37.58 – World Champion 2014
2, Sunderland at 5.28
3, Rodrigues at 13.13
4. Barreda at 12.54
5, Faria at 15.17
6, Viladoms at 19.30
7, Lopez at 21.26
8. Price 1 hour 01.36 (includes 20-minute penalty)
11, Walkner 2:06.51