Sardinia Rally podium with Jordi Villadoms (center) in first, Alessandro Botturi (left) in second and Marc Coma (right) in third.
Jordi Villadoms led a KTM
podium sweep at the 2012 Sardinia Rally with Alessandro Botturi and Marc Coma in second and third, respectively. Villadoms took the five-day rally all the way to the end, the overall victory being his first in the world championship series. Day 5 saw a 255-kilometer track with two Special Tests measuring 34 km and 44 km.
Coma trailed Villadoms by 5:21 heading into the final day and the Spaniard needed to win in order to move up the podium, but a navigational error in the first stage and mechanical woes with his brakes in the second conspired to keep him from victory. His teammate, Ruben Faria, managed to win the second Special but finished ninth overall due to a 45-minute penalty earlier in the rally. Meanwhile, Botturi, overtook the multi-time Dakar champion on the time charts and was able to steal the runner-up position by over a minute, though still 9:38 off the winner.
Botturi won the opening day and Villadoms claimed Day 2. Coma took advantage of a shortened Day 3 before Villadoms rebounded on Day 4 and Faria snared Day 5.
Coma used his podium finish to secure the 2012 Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, his fifth title (‘05, ’06, ’07, ’10, ’12). The Repsol KTM rider has 55 points in the championship ahead of Villadoms with 34, locking up the title with the Pharaoh’s Rally still to come in Egypt. Coma used victories in Abu Dhabi and Qatar to launch is 2012 season.
"The day didn't start very well. I had a problem in kilometer 9 of the first stage and the brakes failed,” Coma said following the race. “From that moment on, I decided to secure our position in the overall standings. In the end we lost the second place, but today the important thing was to get the title. You don't get to celebrate a thing like that every day and to be World Champion means a lot to me. The work of many people is involved in this final result, it is not a coincidence. I want to thank everyone who has worked with me to achieve this result, because without them this would not be possible."
2012 Sardinia Rally Results:
1, Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 11:47:33.2
2, Alessandro Botturi, ITA (KTM) +9:38.69
3, Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) +10:47.03
4, Helder Rodrigues POR (Yamaha) +12:12.21
5, Paolo Ceci, ITA (KTM) +14:36.22
6, Stephane Peterhansel, FRA (Yamaha) +20:53.55
7, Paulo Goncalves, POR (Husqvarna) +21:05.54
8, Gerard Farres, SPA (KTM) +24:8.92
9, Joan Pedrero, SPA (KTM) +24:58.92
10, M. Lucchese, ITA (Husaberg) +32:31.90
Cross-Country Rallies World Championship Points:
1. Marc Coma, 55
2. Jordi Viladoms, 34
3. Paulo Gonçalves, 31
4. Helder Rodrigues, 31
5. Jakub Przygonski, 30
Below is an interview with Coma, courtesy of MWR:
First goal of the season, in the bag: World Champion for the fifth time. Are you satisfied?
Marc Coma earned his fifth Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title after taking third at the Sardinia Rally.
"Yes, I am very satisfied. It was a very intense first part of the season with many races and I am very happy, because after Dakar this was our most important goal for the year –and we achieved it. I am delighted to be on the podium today and to be champion for the fifth time."
Does this title mean as much to you as the others?
"The truth is that it has been a very competitive world championship this year, there are many factories involved and very strong teams competing in order to win. After the two wins we got in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, we had some confidence that helped us win the title. The truth is that this result helps us to consolidate our project and keeps us ambitious, including for the upcoming Dakar Rally, where we can take a fourth win".
Given that Qatar debuted on the calendar this year and Sardinia changed route, was this year more demanding for you?
"Winning the title is very difficult. Winning this title means you have to be competitive on many different types of terrain, you have to adapt to different types of organisation, roadbooks... So the fact that we have won the world championship shows that we are the most complete and competitive. "
In races as short as those in the world championship, what is most important? Is it strategy? Avoiding mistakes? Going hard from the first day onwards?
"Ultimately the most important thing ends up being a combination of everything. A sprint requires that you plan the race as well as possible, you cannot make any mistakes and you have to be smart with your tactics. Still, sometimes the strategy is better or worse. In the first two races it worked out very well, although here in Sardinia things didn’t go as well as expected. However, we could still get the world title in the end."
In the Sardinia Rally, how did you feel with the KTM 450 EXC-F? Is it more of an Enduro bike and very different from the one you use in Dakar?
"It's a bit different from what we are accustomed to riding. I used it to compete in California, in the Baja 500, which doesn’t require a roadbook and I lacked a little practice. Here in Sardinia, for the first two days I did not quite feel comfortable with the navigation, but on the other days I began to regain my feel and I had chances to win in the race right to the end. Our goal was to win in Sardinia, but getting third place is also a good result. "
The final round of the season will be the Pharaoh Rally. As this is on your bike and in the desert, will you use this race as a first test for Dakar?
"The truth is that now I look to the future and see the Pharoah Rally in the distance. After winning the title it is best to rest, recover and prepare for the second part of the season. Then we’ll think about the Pharaoh Rally and Dakar. Now it's time to enjoy the rest. "
It is half a year before the Dakar Rally. What are your goals until then?
"In this second part of the season we have the Pharoah Rally and Morocco, and from thereon in the aim will be to begin preparations to get to Dakar in the best possible shape."
Some of your competitors in the Dakar choose not to participate in all rounds of the world championship. After winning five titles, have you thought about not completing the season and focusing on the Dakar, or do you think you have the strength to continue to do both?
"I think every rider designs their season in the way they consider appropriate. We always believe that the world championship is a very important title and that the races are very demanding tests that allow you to prepare well. It has always been part of our objectives, so I do not see why it shouldn’t remain part of our preparations."