The 2014 Dakar Rally is finally done, after two weeks of hard racing across Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. Despite a slow start to this year’s Dakar, KTM’s Marc Coma took his fourth career win of the iconic rally raid race, aboard KTM’s all new KTM 450 Rally race bike. The Spaniard’s fourth Dakar win came primarily from consistent riding, which saw Coma slowly rise in the rankings as Despres and Barreda made mistakes and encountered technical difficulties with their machinery. Coma dedicated his win to his late teammate Kurt Caselli, who tragically died during the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000. Caselli filled in for Coma in the 2013 rally, earning himself great praise for his assention in the ranks, and two stage wins. Coma’s victory is a fitting tribute to the American rider.
As the sun rose this morning over the Andes Mountains in Chile, the riders of Stage Nine prepared for the long ride through the Atacama Desert. 150 km of sand dunes were followed by a three kilometer descent into Iquique, which lay ahead.
Although starting in third place behind Despres and Barreda, Marc Coma managed to pilot his team Redbull KTM 450 Rally to first place on today’s stage, solidifying his overall lead to 40:19 ahead of his closest competition, Joan Barreda.
“It was a complicated stage in the Atacama Desert. Very nice and very fast at the beginning, but we found some dunes at the end,” said Coma. “I tried to catch Joan because he started two minutes in front of me. When I caught up with him I tried to follow to ride together to the end. It was a good day for me.”
Today’s stage win for Coma not only marks his second special stage win of this year’s rally, but his 23rd special stage victory in the Dakar.
The 2014 Dakar Rally is about to begin, and this year the route begins in Rosario, Argentina, travels north into Bolivia, and then turns around to head down south along the coast to end in Valparaiso, Chile. The total length of the route is almost 5000 kilometers.
Founded in 1978, the original route ran from Paris, France to Dakar Senegal; hence the name “The Paris-Dakar”. However, due to political and security issues which cancelled the race in 2008, the race was transposed across the world to South America in 2009, with a focus on Argentina and Chile.
For those wanting to follow the 2014 Dakar Rally on television, coverage in the United States begins on Monday, January 6th at 5pm on NBC Sports, in both SD and HD.
For the sixth year in a row, the Dakar Rally will race in South America, though the iconic rally race is mixing things up, and is dropping its route through Peru for one that includes Bolivia instead. The Dakar will keep Argentina and Chile on its 2014 course schedule, and the two countries will comprise the majority of the race’s torturous test of its competitors.
The 2014 Dakar Rally will have longer special stages, as well as several marathon stages (stages where only the competitor can do mechanical work on his/her machine, not the mechanics). Taking riders and drivers though Argentina’s northwest canyons and sandy valleys, it should be an especially grueling edition of the historic race.