POWER BREAKFAST: Spanish KTM driver Marc Coma has breakfast at the bivouac before the start of Stage 6 of Dakar 2014 between Tucuman and Salta. He eventually won the race. Image: AFP
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - All lights are green for Marc Coma, the motorcyclist favourite to achieve a fifth win in the upcoming 2015 Dakar. If he does it will be the 14th consecutive title for KTM.
Everything comes to an end but it seems particularly hard to predict anybody ending KTM’s run of victories in the Dakar. In 2014 Cyril Despres’ move to rival Yamaha only led to a short duel at the summit between the two manufacturers.
Coma soo found himself safe from his closest competitors, because the threat posed by Despres and Joan Barreda (Honda) gradually faded until the rest day.
'SENSE OF SECURITY'
The small pack of Austrian bikes found itself in a strong position again on leaving Buenos Aires, and not just because the title holder, who demonstrated his talent throughout the season - rounded off by a sixth World championship - got rid of the competition offered by Cyril Despres (on four wheels for the 2015 event).
Behind Marc Coma, his team mates give KTM a sense of security in case the strong favourite suffers a big glitch: Jordi Viladoms and Ruben Faria were second in 2014 and 2013 respectively, while the fourth official team rider, Sam Sunderland, was second in the recent Rally of Morocco and is a rising star.
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Even so, and despite KTM’s show of force over the years with 13 consecutive wins, the opposition’s ability to react seems more and more likely.
HRC won two stages in the World championship ahead of Coma (Abu Dhabi, Qatar). At Honda, everybody wants Joan Barreda to ride a seamless race. If he takes the lead he could use his experience to manage his advantage and put pressure on Coma.
This role could also be played by his Portuguese team mates, Paolo Gonçalves and Helder Rodrigues, second and fourth in the World championship. Honda also has a nice small group of outsiders and their Japanese rival Yamaha has some good cards up its sleeve to unsettle KTM.
Under different flags, the blue bikes will lead the charge with Olivier Pain (third in 2014) and Juan Pedrero (firth in 2011 and 2013), Frans Verhoeven, Michael Metge or Alessandro Botturi (eighth in 2012).
The big surprise might even come from Sherco, which raised a few eyebrows a year ago by winning two specials. With Alain Duclos as its leader and the support of the returning Fabien Planet (12th in 2007), who wants to make his mark after a great career in Enduro, the French bikemaker thinks it has a good chance of giving the favourites a hard time!
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This was the result from the 2015 Motorcycle section of the Dakar:
1 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 54hr50min53
2 Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) +1hr52min27
3 Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) +2hr00min03
4 Cyril Despres (FRA/Yamaha) +2hr00min38
5 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Honda) +2hr11min09
6 Kuba Przygonski (POL/KTM) +2hr31min46
7 Joan Barreda (ESP/Honda) +2hr54min01
8 Daniel Gouet (CHI/Honda) +3hr10min34
9 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +3hr50min10
10 David Casteu (FRA/KTM) +3hr58min09