Coma Wins Stage Four And Takes Overall Lead In Morocco Rally
KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain allowed himself a few thoughts about the title fight for the 2014 FIM World Cross Country Rallies championship on Tuesday after winning Stage Four of the Morocco Rally and assuming a slender lead in the overall standings.
Speaking after the stage from Zagora to Cheggaga, which included a timed special of 226km, Marc Coma, a Red Bull athlete described it as ‘short but tricky’. Coma finished just in front of factory teammates Sam Sunderland ;(UK) in second place and Australian Toby Price, riding in his first international FIM rally, took third in the stage. The result put Coma in the overall lead with a narrow 1:35 minutes advantage over his rival for the title, Paolo Goncalves of Portugal. There are still two days of hard desert riding to absolve before the 2014 World Champion is crowned.
Coma, who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, said he felt increasingly comfortable in the desert conditions and on the KTM 450 RALLY bike. “This was a short stage that was not exactly difficult or dangerous, but definitely tricky. For this you need a certain feeling and at the end of the day I felt I could start to think a bit about the title fight and to push a little.” The day’s special also included the battle with the dunes of Erg Cheggaga, always a challenge for the riders of this rally.
Coma had already also overcome the psychological step on Monday of having passed through a similar area where he had crashed and was injured two years ago, a race incident that led to him being unable to compete in the 2013 Dakar Rally. Monday was the longest day and one where he had to open the track for more than 300km of the long timed special.
It was also an excellent day out on Tuesday for factory teammate Sunderland who with his second place in the stage has now moved up to third overall behind Goncalves. He trails Coma’s lead-time by just under twelve minutes.
Other KTM factory riders Chaleco Lopez of Chile, Portugal’s Ruben Faria, and Jordi Viladoms of Spain are currently at 5-6-7 in the overall standings. Jakub Przygonski of Poland is ninth overall on his KTM and the two new KTM aspirants, Price and Austrian Matthias Walkner, are currently a very creditable twelfth and fourteenth place. Walkner, whose task in the rally is to concentrate on learning, finished Stage Four just 12:20 minutes off the winning pace.
Price, a winner of the Australian Desert classics but new to this type of racing did incur a 20-minute penalty on Monday for missing a way point. He said his rear tail-light had snapped off and shorted out his map-reader. “It’s all learning,’ he said. “I should have stopped and fixed it but I didn’t know the problem and I didn’t want to get lost. Day three was definitely scary with no map.”
Riders go into the penultimate day with another long day in the saddle with the route from Zagora to Marrakesh to include 302km of timed special. The rally concludes on Thursday.
Results Morocco Rally Stage Four
1. Marc Coma (ESP), KTM, 2:46:32 h
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, +0.05 sec
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, +1:10 min
4. Paolo Goncalves (POR), Honda, +2:16
5. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, +3:47
6. Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez (RCH), KTM, +3:52
9. Ruben Faria (POR), KTM, +7:23
10. Jordi Viladoms (ESP), KTM, +8:10
11. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, +12:20
13. Jakub Przygonski (POL), KTM, +14:46
Standings Morocco Rally after 4 of 6 stages
1. Coma, 11:41:52 h
2. Goncalves, +1:35 min
3. Sunderland, +11:53
4. Helder Rodrigues (POR), Honda, +16:34
5. Lopez, +16:46
6. Faria, +20:15
7. Viladoms, +21:45
9. Przygonski, +52:35
12. Price, +1:05:19 h (includes 20-minute penalty)
14. Walkner, +1:47:17
Highlights Morocco Rally 2014 Stage Four:
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