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Marc Coma secures 2009 Dakar victory

By Michael Guy -

Off road

 19 January 2009 11:07

Spaniard Marc Coma made history to secure victory of the first ever Argentina – Chile Dakar on Sunday.

The factory Repsol KTM rider lead the gruelling race from start to finish to secure his second ever Dakar victory in the inaugural 15 stage 9,500KM South American event.

Throughout the 15 days Coma managed to avoid any major set backs and after securing a commanding lead in the early stages consolidated it day after day to eventually win by 1h 25m 38s.

Coma said: ”I can't describe the feeling - happy doesn't even come close. It is so good to be able to draw a line under two difficult years - losing the 2007 Dakar two days from the end and then the cancellation of the 2008 edition.

"Winning this race is all about preparation and Jordi (Viladoms), Gerard (Farres) and I worked very hard on that this year.

"It has been a difficult rally for both the organisers and the competitors, due to our lack of experience in racing on this continent, but we have all risen to that challenge.

"What really made this Dakar special were the people of Argentina and Chile who were so welcoming and enthusiastic.”

Second place went to Frenchman Cyril Despres. The 2007 Dakar winner saw any chance of repeating victory evaporate in the opening three days after he was struck by tyre problem, navigation issues and a crash.

The Red Bull KTM man did get his race back on track and by day four was matching the pace of Coma and went onto take an impressive four stage victories.

He said: “Another Dakar and another podium - but unfortunately not another victory. Still, in many ways, it is a personal triumph.

"When, after three days, I found myself in 22nd position I was forced to dig deep to find the determination, not just to continue riding, but to continue racing. Rally-raid on a motorcycle is a sport for egoists.

"But the Dakar is also a school of life and teaches you that to receive you have to give.

"KTM, the people in my team, my sponsors, my fiancé, my family and my friends give me a great deal of support and it was in my gratitude to them that I found the strength to fight all the way to the end.

"Congratulations to Marc for a truly excellent race.”

David Fretigne impressed onboard his Yamaha WR450F to take third place. The Frenchman pushed Despres all the way for second spot with his smaller 450 Yamaha clearly working well on the majority of the new look event, particularly on the more technical stages.

British riders once again put in strong performances at the torturous event. Honda Europe’s Mick Extance finished an excellent 26th place but missed out on his target of a top twenty spot after missing a check point on stage 11 which meant he was given a four hour time penalty.

Without the penalty the Dakar veteran would have been well inside the top twenty in 15th spot.

Stanley Watt (KTM Front Row GB) was another rider to impress after claiming numerous top thirty stage finishes before bringing his KTM home in 38th place.

Craig Bounds (KTM Desert Rose Racing) simply got stronger and stronger as the event progressed and with a best stage finsih of 30th secured 54th position overall.

Honourary Brit Simon Pavey finished the Dakar for the fifth time in his career ending the 2009 event in 68th place.

Gary Ennis (KTM Team Dakar Ireland) got to the finish of his first ever Dakar, ending the gruelling event in highly respectable 87th place.

Ewan Bucham (KTM Desert Rose Racing) brought his Patsy Quick supported KTM home in 90th spot.

Out of 235 starters 109 riders finished. Jonathan Stamper (KTM Front Row GB) withdrew from the event on stage five with Irishman Phillip Noone (Team Dolphin Racing KTM) withdrawing on stage nine.