Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma had a good day out in the first of two marathon stages at the Dakar 2015 on Sunday, trimming the time deficit between him and overall leader Joan Barreda by half in Stage 7.
Coma, a Red Bull athlete who finished a very close in the stage that went from Iquique to Uyuni in Bolivia is now overall second by six minute 28 seconds. Barreda, like Coma, also from Spain finished twelfth in the stage some 6.13 behind the winner, Paolo Goncalves of Portugal. Coma finished just 14 seconds behind Goncalves.
Immediately behind Coma was KTM’s Dakar rookie Matthias Walkner of Austria who bounced back impressively after having a very tough day on Friday before the only rest day. Walkner, riding in only his second rally ever was only 30 seconds behind the stage winner. Next was KTM rider Pablo Quintanilla of Chile at 1.32 and KTM’s second Dakar Rookie, Toby Price of Australia was at 1.49. KTM riders Stefan Svitko of Slovakia, KTM-supported rider Riaan van Niekerk of South Africa and factory rider Jordi Viladoms came in at positions 9-11. KTM factory rider Ruben Faria was fourteenth.
There are currently six KTM riders in the top 10 of the overall standings as the rally goes into the second and final week.
Sunday’s marathon stage demanded careful riding, especially when it came to looking after tires. Riders are allowed no contact or mechanical intervention by their teams and must carry out any necessary repairs by themselves.
The ride from Iquique in Chile into Bolivia and Uyuni, named as the world’s largest salt lake, took riders to an altitude of 3500 m. They traveled for 321 km under the clock after a liaison section of almost 400 km and They face an even tougher day on Monday when Stage 8 from Uyuni back to Iquique is a race against the clock of some 781 km. Should the surface of the gigantic lake be dry, organizers are planning a mass start of 30 riders at a time. If it is not dry, riders will take a course around the edge of the lake. KTM factory riders and KTM-supported riders are on the KTM 450 RLLY bike.