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13 Stages, Now It's Over

Dakar 2015

maddix park mx Byron Wilson  Saturday, January 17, 2015

Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma held steady through the final stage of the 2015 Dakar Rally for his fifth career victory in the event. The KTM ace finished Stage 13 in fifth-position, leaving him more than 16 minutes ahead of his closest competition in the overall classification, Team HRC’s Paulo Goncalves. Coma’s teammate and Dakar rookie, Toby Price, (Australia) rounds out the top-three overall. 

The honors for the final stage of this year’s rally go to KTM rider Ivan Jakes, who finished the day fastest ahead of his countryman Stefan Svitko. Stage 13 was modest in length to begin with, but heavy rains compelled officials to end the motorcycle portion early at the second checkpoint. 

It was Coma’s day, however, the Spaniard once again proving his ability in the punishing event and equaling Cyril Despres’ career win record. Coma tackled the Dakar deliberately, winning just one stage of 13, but finishing within the top-three in six other stages. He faced a heavy challenge from Team HRC’s Joan Barreda during the initial stages, but a disastrous turn of events for the Honda rider on the Uyuni Salt Flats proved advantageous for Coma. The KTM rider was thoroughly consistent, pushing when able and reigning back when necessary. 

““I’m happy and proud,” explained Coma. “As usual it was a grueling rally. We had to overcome a problem on the second day that slowed us down a bit in the rankings. So from then on we had to change the strategy a little and push to recover that time. We knew that the marathons would be key stages and they were. I am happy with the team and the people we have around us. This fifth win says a lot about all of us. The level was very high and this also makes the win very valuable.” 

Goncalves was neck and neck with Coma at the end, finishing 16:53 behind the KTM rider, which includes 17 minutes worth of penalties. 

“I think the whole team deserves this result, especially after all the hard work that they have done,” said Goncalves. “All that’s needed now is to go one small step further and win the rally. We are well-prepared and on the right track. I’m pleased with the result, and I want to thank the whole team, but most especially my team-mates Joan, Hélder and Jeremias, who were there to help me out in the most delicate moments. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be on the podium here in Dakar."

Finishing third on the stage and more importantly third overall at the conclusion of the race was Australian Toby Price aboard his KTM 450 Rally Replica. Price stunned the rally racing world by collecting a stage win to go along with his overall third place finish in just his first attempt at the Dakar Rally, finishing just 23 minutes and 14 second behind race winner Coma after bring as far back as 8th and over 40 minutes behind the race leader early in the race. 

The result was a truly stunning effort for the rider who was competing in just his second navigation Rally race. 

"It started pouring 70 kilometers into the stage. It was extremely tough to keep going. Then, they shortened the special." Price explained. 

"Being here in third place is insane! I'm at a loss for words. 

"When I decided to sign up three or four months ago, I was quite nervous, I didn't know what I was getting into. And now I'm on the finish line, happy." A delighted Price added.

KTM’s Pablo Quintanilla ends the 2015 Dakar Rally fourth overall followed by Svitko in fifth. Coma’s teammate, Ruben Faria, takes sixth while French rider David Casteu earns seventh. Jakes moved up to eighth after his Stage 13 performance, dropping Team HRC’s Laia Sanz to ninth. Sanz’s finish is a record-breaking achievement, marking the highest overall finish for a female rider in the history of the Dakar. 

“I’m very happy,” said Sanz. “If they had offered me a top-ten finish before the race, I would have signed. Many said that it was plausible, but the Dakar is a highly-unpredictable, difficult and risky race. You’ve got to have your wits about you all the time. It’s a great result that I want to share it with the whole team, who have put their trust in me from the first moment, giving me this great chance, and also with the fans and followers who been with me all the way through. ¡Muchas gracias!” 
As always, the 2015 Dakar Rally saw a large number of riders withdraw, but Motorcycle USA’s Llewelyn Pavey and his father Simon powered through to count among the 79 motorcycle entries to complete all 13 stages. Llewelyn finished the final stage in 78th with Simon trailing in 79th, placing them 62nd and 63rd, respectively, overall. They are the first father/son duo to ever finish the Dakar.

"Today was a mad day, the hardest of the rally in some ways," said Simon. "Everyone set off at the start like scolded cats in the dry and the dust, which was unbelievable in itself. We just decided to let them get on with it because there was nothing to be gained or lost. 

"Then the heavens opened and half the people who’d come flying past us were laying upside down at the side of the track because they couldn’t ride mud. It was unreal and to be honest really, really funny. 

But that quickly turned on us. As soon as Llel’s bike got wet it just died so we had quite a few Ks of towing through mud that you wouldn’t believe. Llel was awesome holding on to the tow. Basically a rally bike on desert tires doesn’t grip too well in those conditions so you have to hook second gear and keep it pinned. The top layer of mud was so thick I have no idea how he held on. I would have given up long before! 

"We got out though and it was fun, I guess. I think we’re both just exhausted. The effort put in by Evan and John has been unbelievable too and there’s no way we could have been at the podium there without them. The rally this year has ticked all the emotions boxes that’s for sure. Despair, hope, tears, highs – all were there. And that was just today!"

"We began our day steady today, mainly because my bike was running really badly but also because there was no point in going mental like everyone else," added Llewelyn. "It was dry at the start and for some reason people who’d been steady all week went crazy. I don’t really know why. 

"After about 60kms we were in the middle of the field and the rain came down out of nowhere. It rained a bit then was dry and then came down properly torrential. Because it was so dry otherwise, it just became this slime on top of hard ground that you could barely walk on. 

"And it just turned into carnage, utter carnage. People were everywhere - really good riders just doing 3kms with their feet out like clubmen. So for a while we were doing well, I think I over-took 20 people in 2kms at one point. 

"But then the bike just stopped again. The whole front of the bike went live too so the bars, levers anything metal was live. We tried to fix it but just decided to tow our way out. 

"Which was hard, hard work at times, fun but hard. I basically had to guess my way a lot of the time, close my eyes and hold on hard while dad nailed it. 

"It’s hard to say how I feel now, I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet but it’s almost an anti-climax that the rally is over. I’m just tired I guess. I’m not sure the bike would’ve lasted another day anyhow. I definitely feel like we did a good job of getting all the stories packed in there for my first rally!"

Dakar Rally Stage 13 Results
1. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 00:52:06 
2. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 00:52:51 
3. Toby Price, AUS (KTM) 00:53:13 
4. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 00:53:21 
5. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 00:55:17 
6. Hans Vogels, NLD (KTM) 00:55:42 
7. Frans Verhoeven, NLD (Yamaha) 00:56:41 
8. Pablo Quintanilla, CHL (KTM) 00:56:58 
9. Xavier de Soultrait, FRA (Yamaha) 00:58:00 
10. Laia Sanz, ESP (Honda) 1:00:01 

2015 Dakar Rally Overall Results
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 46:03:49 
2. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 46:20:42 
3. Toby Price, AUS (KTM) 46:27:03 
4. Pablo Quintanilla, CHL (KTM) 46:42:27 
5. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 46:48:06 
6. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 48:01:39 
7. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 48:04:03 
8. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 48:22:07 
9. Laia Sanz, ESP (Honda) 48:28:10 
10. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 49:12:58

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