KTM’s factory riders Marc Coma and Cyril Despres got down to the business of serious rally on Monday on the opening stage of the Rally of Morocco. Coma finished just one minute 12 behind leader Helder Rodrigues of Portugal and Despres trailed by 2 minutes 20.
The three leaders have already put distance to the next rider Joan Barreda of Spain who trails by just under eleven minutes. This puts the two KTM riders, who are both multiple Dakar Rally winners, in perfect position for Stage Two on Tuesday. Coma follows out Barreda, who must open the road in the desert and both he and Despres will be able to follow his tracks.
Monday’s ride took competitors out into the desert and over rocky terrain for a total distance of 313 km with two short liaisons totaling 42km. Tuesday’s second stage will be very similar and in part covering the same terrain prompting Coma to remark that it will be necessary to be careful with the navigation and not be confused by the tracks laid down in the desert on Monday. Despres said he was quite satisfied with the opening day but admitted it had been difficult riding over the rocky passages and also having made several small mistakes that cost him ‘some seconds’.
Both riders are using the rally to fine-tune their training for Dakar 2013 (Peru, Argentina and Chile) starting on January 5. Coma settled the title in the World Cross Country World Championship already in Sardinia in July and sat out the final of the four rounds in Egypt last week. Despres confined his racing activities to the Desafio Litoral Rally in Argentina, also in the summer, which he won.
While the two lead KTM riders are numbered among the favorites for this week’s event, there is a strong field of factory riders in the field that will all be out to trim their domination. Other strong KTM riders competing this week include Coma’s teammate Juan Pedrero of Spain, currently seventh, Chaleco Lopez of Chile (ninth), Alessandro Botturi and Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przgonski of Poland. Also competing are South African duo Darryl Curtis and Riaan Van Niekerk, also in Morocco to hone skills for Dakar 2013.
Results Stage One
(Total distance 313 km, including two liaisons total 42 km)
1, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda 2 hours 59.50
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 1 minute 12
3, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 2.20
4, Joan Barrera, Spain, Husqvarna at 10.41
5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna, 13.36
6, Olivier Pain, France, Yamaha, 14.26
7, Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM 16.13
9, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM, 19.47
13, Alessandro Botturi, Italy, KTM, 25.16
14, Jakub Przgonski, Poland, KTM 30.55
18, Darryl Curtis, South Africa, KTM, 46.42
19, RiaanVan Niekerk, South Africa KTM, 47.57
20, Henk Knuiman, Netherlands, KTM, 48.45