The 2014 Dakar Rally is over, and KTM has taken the two top spots in the motorcycle division with Marc Coma winning his fourth overall, ahead of teammate Jordi Viladoms. As always, the 2014 edition was very tough, and several motorcycle riders were knocked out of the race by injury or mechanical issues. Here is an official report from the Dakar Rally organizer:
Last year, leader Cyril Despres and his lieutenant Ruben Faria signed an amazing one-two for the KTM squad. It was with the same team spirit that Marc Coma grabbed his fourth overall win, escorted on the podium by his faithful lieutenant Jordi Viladoms, who had already stood at his side when he won in 2006 in 2009. Coma’s strategy, based on building an insurmountable lead over his rivals in one single special, has changed little since his last victory in 2011. This time round, it was during the fourth day of racing, the second part of the marathon stage to Chilecito, that the comeback kid dealt a devastating blow by toppling Joan Barreda from the lead, while electronic problems scuttled Cyril Despres’ chances of victory. From then on, Coma focused on avoiding mistakes, while his rivals suffered more and more mishaps, mechanicals and errors… costing them hours in the overall.
The first two riders to drop out were those who stood next to Despres on last year’s podium, Ruben Faria and “Chaleco” López, who were knocked out by falls. Later on, during stage 5, world champion Paolo Gonçalves saw both his Honda and his hopes go up in flames. At the time, a breath of fresh air from the Sherco camp compensated for all these disappointments. After alternating with teammate Juan Pedrero in the top places of the stages, Alain Duclos looked more and more like a serious podium contender, at least until the rest day. However, his Sherco’s engine gave in during stage 9 after a first scare two days earlier. Marc Coma was able to spend the last few days riding at his own pace and keeping an eye on distant pursuer Joan Barreda. However, after climbing back to within half an hour of Coma due to the leader being handed down a penalty for an engine change, Barreda blew it exactly when it looked like he had finally learned to be consistent. The animator of this year’s edition and winner of five stages crumbled on the dunes of Copiapó the day before the finish, conceding over two hours and slipping to seventh overall.
Meanwhile, Cyril Despres continued Operation Comeback, gaining a few places in the classification for his troubles. The five-time winner, 12th at the end of stage 5 and 11th on the rest day, inched closer and closer to the top until he finished at the gates of the podium, just behind teammate Olivier Pain. Yamaha’s one-two in the third and fourth places is followed by an honourable Honda contingent, with Hélder Rodrigues in fifth, Joan Barreda in seventh and Daniel Gouet in eighth. Laia Sanz put the cherry on the Catalan take with a decent sixteenth place, one of the best results achieved by a female rider at the Dakar, after Christine Martin’s tenth place in 1981, Nicole Maitrot’s fourteenth in 1982 and Véronique Anquetil’s fifteenth in 1984.