Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain set the fastest time in Stage One of the 2015 Sealine Rally to launch his bid for a third win in this demanding event.
The rally is celebrating its fourth edition and Coma won in 2012 and 2014 and is anxious to reestablish his claim on the title in 2015. It is also Round Two of the FIM World Cross Countries Rally. Coma took victory in the opening rally, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and leads the points going into Round Two.
Coma, a Red Bull athlete completed Stage One in two hours 10 minutes 01 to hold a narrow, six second lead over second placed Joan Barreda, one of his regular opponents. They were closely followed over the line by Sam Sunderland, Coma’s factory teammate, a British rider based in the UAE. Sunderland trailed the leader by 57 seconds.
Marc Coma: “It was a positive first special stage although I did make a small navigation mistake in the final part. But in the end we took the stage win and it is always important to start with positive feelings. The bike worked perfectly and I have tried to adapt to the terrain of this race. It is is very different from Abu Dhabi, with a more demanding navigation and lots of stones. Tomorrow will be a very long special.”
Day One was also positive for the other members of the factory team and KTM riders in general. Pablo Quintanilla of Chile was fourth, Mohamed Al Balooshi sixth and KTM factory riders Jordi Viladoms (ESP), Ruben Faria(POR) and Austrian Matthias Walkner were in places 7-9. Walker currently has a deficit of 13 minutes 03 to make up on the leader.KTM factory riders compete on the KTM 450 RALLY.
Riders will tackle five challenging special stages and cover a distance of 1926,76 km, of which 1782.01 is timed special. Over 90% of the distance is competitive.
Unlike the Desert Challenge that precedes the Sealine on the racing calendar, riders will face more challenging navigation this week and less pure dunes riding. There will be a lot of stony track and a lot of navigation to a ratio of around 20% sand and 80% navigation, organizers have promised, adding that the terrain will be both varied and demanding. The rally concludes after Stage Five on Friday, April 24.
Stage Two features a 398.88 km timed special and 73.62 liaison – a total of 474.50 km.
Stage One Results – provisional
1, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM 2 hours 10.01.00
2, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda at 6.00 seconds
3, Sam Sunderland, GBR, KTM at 57.00
4, Pablo Quintanilla CHI, KTM at 2 minutes 05
5, Paolo Goncalves, POR, Honda at 4:09
6, Mohamed Al Balooshi, UAE, KTM at 5:16
7, Jordi Viladoms, ESP, KTM at 8:18
8, Ruben Faria, POR, KTM at 8:27
9, Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM at 13:03
10, Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHI, Honda at 18:31