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Coma wins 2009 Dakar Rally

Repsol KTM rider led from start to finish

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 19, 2009, Photography by Papp T.
Marc Coma rode a conservative final stage to win the 2009 Dakar Rally, the first to be held in South America.

Coma dominated the motorcycle class, holding the overall lead since the first stage on Jan. 3. The Repsol KTM rider arrived at the finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Jan. 17 to win his second Dakar Rally by a margin of one hour 25 minutes and 38 seconds ahead of runner-up Cyril Despres of Red Bull KTM.

The win was redemption for Coma who pulled out of the 2007 Dakar Rally due to injury with two days remaining. Coma, the 2006 Dakar champion, won three of the first four stages and finished second in five more for a total time of 52:14:33.

Marc Coma left the competition in his dust, winning the 2009 Dakar Rally by 1:25:38.
Marc Coma (left) and Cyril Despres finished one-two for KTM.

“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,” says Coma. “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 organizers 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.”

Despres, the 2007 Dakar Rally champion, had to overcome a slow start to reach the 2008 podium.

“Another Dakar and another podium – but unfortunately not another victory,” says Despres. “Still, in many ways, it is a personal triumph. When, after three days, I found myself in twenty second 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.”

Completing the podium was Yamaha rider David Fretigne. While most of his competition rode on KTM 690 Rallye bikes, Fretigne elected to ride a smaller displacement Yamaha WRF450. Fretigne finished in the top three of all but the first stage despite riding a less powerful motorcycle.