Marc Coma wins fifth Dakar – Toby Price Podium – By Trevor Hedge
Out of the 168 motorcycle competitors, all well proven and well established competitors, that started Dakar 2015 just 79 made it to the finish. That result alone spells out just how much of a challenge to man and machine the Dakar presents, and what an achievement it is to finish such an event successfully.
Marc Coma drew upon his experience to take his fifth Dakar and bring home the 14th Dakar success for KTM who successfully fought against a high-level effort from HRC to rob the Austrian manufacturer of the coveted Dakar title.
If not for the penalty against Paulo Goncalves for an engine change then the result may have been reversed but Dakar is not just about riding prowess and navigational skills, but also on how to preserve your machine to ensure it makes it to the end with as few technical problems as possible. Goncalves finished 16-minutes 53-secondsb behind Coma but the 17-minutes of penalties applied to his result placed him second outright in Dakar 2015. To be fair, Coma has ridden conservatively as he was well aware of that buffer and no doubt had some more speed in reserve should he have needed to stave off any challenge in the final days of Dakar.
Joan Barreda took four stage wins to prove the speed of the Honda package but alas it was the wily Coma that made the least errors and like third place Toby Price, also rode smart enough to ensure they could compete Dakar without an engine change.
Toby Price went to Dakar with only one rally under his belt and was new to road-book style navigation. The Australian did have some navigational confusion in stages four and six but towards the end of Dakar 2015 he had taken his first stage win, an amazing feat for a Dakar rookie, and managed to climb from fifth to third outright in the rankings across the final days of competition. Add to that the fact that Toby Price finished amongst a gaggle of ‘full factory’ riders, in comparison to Price’s ‘factory supported’ status, there is a big world of difference between those two sets of words, that only further underlines the greatness of Price’s achievement.
Toby Price was obviously ecstatic but still a man of few words on the podium – “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 nervious, I didn’t know what I was getting into. And now I’m on the finish line… happy.”
Toby need not say much more, he is better to let his actions speak volumes for themselves.
As an Australian, I say to Toby, ‘you have done us so proud and every motorcycle enthusiast in this country salutes you and recognises the enormity of what you achieved. Your name will go down in the history books as one of Australia’s most accomplished motorcycle racers ever.’
And at 27-years-young, a relative baby in off-road rally terms, surely the best for Toby Price is yet to come….
Ben Grabham, KTM Australia Off-Road Racing Team Manager also watched Toby’s progress from home and is very proud of his charge’s achievement: “I knew that barring anything crazy overnight he was going to be standing on that podium today, so as soon as I woke up this morning I rang to congratulate him.
“Because I’ve done Dakar I know what an amazing ride he’s had to be able to do that straight up. I never doubted for a minute that he could beat all those guys speed-wise, but I haven’t seen too many people go and show that kind of consistency and keep themselves out of trouble like he did.
“He’s got two guys ahead of him with a lot of experience, but by gee he beat a lot of other guys that have wads of experience compared to him. He proved he can use his brain and think a lot on the bike as well.
“He’s back in a few days, and he wanted to come and do Deep Well this weekend, but I know that his brain will need a good rest, then it will be straight into the complete opposite of what he’s been doing – enduro-cross on the smaller 350. But if anybody can cross over, that’s Toby, as he proved!”
Click the video for this FoxSports interview with Toby Price
Dakar Rally 2015 Stage 13: Rosario to Buenos Aires
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 Gonçalves, 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 Pla-Giribert, ESP (Honda) 01:00:01
11. Olivier Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 01:00:05
12. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 01:00:22
13. Emanuel Gyenes, ROU (KTM), 01:00:41
14. Fabien Planet, FRA (Sherco TVS) 01:01:19
15. Paolo Ceci, ITA (KTM) 01:01:25
Dakar Rally 2015: Overall Ranking
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 46:03:49
2. Paulo Gonçalves, 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 Pla-Giribert, ESP (Honda) 48:28:10
10. Olivier Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 49:12:58
11. Hans Vogels, NLD (KTM) 49:35:39
12. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 50:04:04
13. Xavier De Soultrait, FRA (Yamaha) 50:24:07
14. Paolo Ceci, ITA (KTM) 51:02:03
15. Frans Verhoeven, NLD (Yamaha) 51:17:29
Dakar 2015 Stage 13 Video Wrap
Dakar 2015 Motorcycle Highlights Reel
Official Dakar Report
216. The number of competitors who managed to finish the 2015 Dakar (79 motorcycles, 18 quads, 68 cars and 51 trucks) out of the 420 which started the rally. Two of them, Ivan Jakeš and Robby Gordon, won the final stage in the motorcycle and car categories, respectively. However, the spotlight was on Marc Coma, who drew upon his experience to take his fifth Dakar, and Nasser Al-Attiyah, who claimed his second one after dominating the entire two-week rally.
Marc Coma is now level with Cyril Despres, a fact which will please the Frenchman’s eternal rival at the Dakar to no end and —just like his former teammate— puts him just one triumph away from the record held by legend Stéphane Peterhansel. Their equal number of wins takes on a special dimension considering the dominance of the two men throughout the last ten editions of the Dakar, as well as the good-natured competition which fuels their ambition. For the first time in ten years, Despres was not there to take the fight to Coma, having switched to the car category this year, but the Spaniard still had to fight tooth and nail for his resounding victory in Buenos Aires… As in 2014, Joan Barreda was clearly the toughest rival the KTM rider came up against in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. The HRC rider won stage 2 with the added bonus of the overall lead, opening a crucial 12-minute gap thanks to the latter’s tyre problems. From the very next stage, the two Spaniards played cat and mouse, riding together and taking turns to claw back the two minutes separating them at the start of the special. This little game lasted several days to the benefit of Barreda, who looked like he had finally acquired the experience needed to fight for victory until the end without making any mistakes.
However, Coma bided his time like a feline waiting to pounce at the slightest opportunity. Marc found an opening in stage 8 after his Spanish rival suffered a mechanical. The no. 2 Honda, damaged by the crossing of the waterlogged Salar de Uyuni, had to be towed to Iquique by Jeremías Israel Esquerre. This decisive turn of events gave Marc Coma the reins of the rally, which he kept until Buenos Aires. However, the KTM rider still had to see off a determined Paulo Gonçalves who was out to avenge the honour of the world’s leading maker, thwarted by its Austrian nemesis for the third time since its official rally raid comeback. The Portuguese rider never gave up, but he finally had to settle for a well-deserved second place. As well-deserved as amazing Toby Price’s third step on the podium. The 27-year-old rookie from Down Under will be worth keeping an eye on in upcoming editions. The KTM rider claimed stage 12 and kept getting stronger as the race went on, pulling off an impressive streak of eight top 5 places and bested Pablo Quintanilla for third place at the end of the rally, making him the best rookie since his fellow countryman Andy Haydon in 1998.
However, his Chilean rival has good reason to be happy with his rally after having to withdraw from his first two editions of the Dakar, winning the gruelling eighth stage. He too will probably come back with loftier goals in 2016. Among those who did not make it to the finish, Sam Sunderland will be seeking to bounce back and gain consistency in 2016 after winning the first special this year, just like Matthias Walkner, who also won a stage in his maiden Dakar and represents the new generation of rally raid together with Price. Laia Sanz did reach Buenos Aires and showed flashes of brilliance throughout the 2015 edition, claiming a fantastic fifth place in Iquique and, even more importantly, ninth overall, up there with the big guns. The pretty Catalan even beat Olivier Pain, who barely had any presence in the race for the Yamaha clan.
In the quad category, Rafał Sonik finally tasted glory in his sixth Dakar start, following four top 5 finishes. The Pole hit the ground running, but he spent a big chunk of the rally battling Ignacio Casale, who was determined to make it two in a row after his brilliant victory in 2014 —Chile’s first at the Dakar. Casale won the first two stages and put his cards on the table, locked in a fierce battle with Sonik until a mechanical problem in stage 10 sent him home. The same special also eliminated Sergio Lafuente, opening a gap of almost three hours between the leader and second-placed Jeremías González Ferioli, who grabbed his first special at the young age of 19! Christophe Declerck’s two amazing stage wins thrust him into the limelight as the only French stage winner at the 2015 Dakar..
Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain on Saturday sealed his fifth Dakar title and presented KTM with its fourteenth win in this offroad classic. Paolo Goncalves of Portugal took second place and KTM rookie Toby Price of Australia took the minor podium place.
Coma, A Red Bull athlete, rode to the start of the final Stage 13 with a 17-minute lead over Goncalves however riders were unable to complete the 393 km of the final stage into Buenos Aires after heavy rain made the track surface slippery and too dangerous. The race was halted at CP2 and Coma was declared the winner. The win for Coma equals that of his former KTM teammate Cyril Despres and represents the domination of these two riders on the event for a decade.
Coma tackled the Dakar with his usual passion and attention to detail, true to his belief that the only result that counts was that in the final day. He took victory in Stage Five and was top three in six other stages. He also rode with care and prudence in the two marathon stages, nursing a damaged tire in the first and safely bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home across the salt flats of Bolivia in wet conditions that resulted in many riders having to exit the rally after salt clogged their engines and electronics.
Marc Coma: “I’m happy and proud. 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.” Coma also congratulated his two rivals Joan Barreda and Paolo Goncalves who he said were tough opponents. “The level was very high and this also makes the win very valuable,” he added.
The 2015 rally was an emotional roller coaster for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team and the KTM-supported riders. Factory racer Sam Sunderland got things off to a brilliant start with a solid first stage win, only to get lost at the tail end of Stage Two in what was the longest stage in the 2015 edition. He then crashed out early in Stage Three and had to retire.
At the same time it was already clear that two young pretenders, KTM-supported Dakar newcomers Matthias Walkner of Austria and Australian Toby Price were out to impress. Both came to the Dakar with only one rally under their tires having raced the Morocco Rally in October. Both were also new to road book-style navigation.
Walkner drew attention early. After finishing 8-6 in the two opening stages he then won Stage Three. The rest of his rally saw him making great recoveries after difficult days until he finally succumbed to altitude sickness and stomach problems in Stage Nine and had to withdraw. It was an unfortunate end for a rider with great potential and as yet little experience and he exited after making his mark as a rider to watch in the future.
Price, a four-time winner of Australia’s Finke Desert classic said at the beginning of the rally that navigation would be difficult. He did have some difficulties in stages 4-6 but by the time he started in the final stage he had eight top five finishes and including a win in Stage 12. Price by then had moved up to third overall and was able to make it stick until the race was declared over.
Regular Red Bull KTM Factory rider Ruben Faria of Portugal finished sixth overall, which was a solid result given that Faria had broken his collarbone only six weeks before the rally. His teammate Jordi Viladoms was one rider who was unable to finish the difficult stage over the Bolivian salt flats. Villadoms was fifteenth overall when he retired from the race. KTM-supported rider Riaan van Niekerk also retired after Stage Seven left Bolivia. He was overall twelfth. Jakub Przygonski of Poland, a regular KTM-supported rider who competes for Team Orlen was eighteenth overall. He has had a difficult season after a serious injury in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of 2014.
Line honors in the final shortened stage went to three KTM riders. Ivan Jakes of Slovakia won the stage. Countryman Stefan Svitko finished second and Price was third. Svitko finishes fifth overall and Jakes was eighth overall. KTM riders took seven of the top 10 places in the 2015 edition.
The Dakar 2015 ends after circling the loop and ending up back in Buenos Aires a fortnight later, bringing new successes for Team HRC. Paulo Goncalves finishes the world’s toughest rally in second place, while Laia Sanz breaks new ground with an unprecedented ninth place overall finish.
After picking up the world championship runner-up prize last October at the Morocco Rally, Portuguese ace Paulo Goncalves has once again pulled off another achievement for Team HRC. It was a display of grit, tireless effort, consistency and teamwork, which finally brought the rider’s Rally Dakar 2015 adventure to a close as runner-up in the final rankings.
Paulo Goncalves very nearly pulled it off in the world’s greatest rally challenge too. The rider had collected a total of 17 minutes of penalties, and eventually finished just 16’53” behind the eventual race winner Marc Coma.
Another of the big Team HRC success stories from this Dakar has been the astonishing ninth-place finish for a brilliant Laia Sanz. The Spaniard claims the best ever final position in the race’s female category. Besides showing excellent riding dexterity and a true command of navigation aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY, the athlete proved herself by finishing several of the special timed stages up among the top ten riders.
Noteworthy too, was the overall performance of Joan Barreda, with four stage victories, and always the man to beat at this Dakar 2015. The Castellon rider was unstoppable at the head of the race until stage eight, when extreme weather conditions at the Uyuni salt flats put an end to his chances of a win in the campaign. Barreda’s final overall ranking was an unjust 17th.
Helder Rodrigues has, likewise, been a cornerstone of the Team. In addition to two stage victories, Hélder finished in 12th place on the final leaderboard.
Honda South America Rally Team close their crusade after a valiant effort that sees Javier Pizzolito and Jean Azevedo take 19thand 22ndrespectively. HSA Rally Team offered crucial support to the riders of Team HRC throughout the event.
The rally came to an end in Baradero, with what had been planned as a 174 kilometre special, reduced by 73 kilometres due to the conditions, before the final connection phase brought the entourage into Buenos Aires, where the final ceremonial podium was held in Tecnopolis.
Paulo Goncalves – 2ND +16’53 – “I think the whole team deserves this result, especially after all the hard work that they have done. 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 Jere, 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.”
Laia Sanz – 9TH +2:24’21 – I’m very happy. Really! 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!”
Helder Rodrigues – 12TH + 4:00’15 – “For me the Dakar has been a bit unlucky I couldn’t really do much due to a couple of setbacks, but I’m pleased all the same, not just for the two stage wins, but most of all because Team HRC has made the podium with Paulo. The squad has worked really well together and now we are off to begin preparing the next one.”
Joan Barreda – 17TH + 5:54’35 – “After the problems in the marathon stage, I think that we made a great team effort and have got a good final result. I was leading the race for a few days and I won four stages, and I don’t think there’s much more I need to show. The thing that I’m most proud of is Paulo’s result. He really deserves it.”
Yoshishige Nomura – HRC President – “Unfortunately, we were not able to win overall, but our riders and team members have made an excellent effort, and we won second place on the podium. I’m really proud to their professional work. I also appreciate all the rider’s great support in helping to get Paolo onto the second step of the podium. I’m very disappointed that we will have to wait another year for a first place on the podium of the Dakar. Anyway, our challenge at the Dakar continues. Lastly, I’d like to wish all the riders and team staff a good rest. Thanks for a job well done!”
The 2015 Dakar has once again established itself as the world’s toughest rally-raid challenge. Yamaha Netherlands Verhoeven Team’s Frans Verhoeven and Yamaha Factory Racing Rally Team Yamalube’s Olivier Pain had to battle fierce conditions on the last stage to finish in 7th and 11th place.
The start of the 13th race day was already atypical due to the reverse start order, but more havoc was on its way. Soon torrential rain hit the thirteenth stage, making the course extremely slippery. Riding in groups, the competitors slowly made progress on their journey to Buenos Aires where the podium at the Tecnópolis awaited, but before they could reach their final destination the circumstances got so dangerous that it was decided to stop the race at CP2.
The cut- short last special of 101 km saw no changes to the overall positions of the leading Yamaha riders. Olivier Pain finished in 10th place overall, ahead of fellow Yamaha mounted Frenchman Xavier De Soultrait in 13th place, while their Dutch colleague, Frans Verhoeven, signed off his Dakar career with a solid 15th place overall.
Yamaha teams are celebrating in the quad category. Rafal Sonik won the 2015 Dakar in his category with a lead of almost three hours over 18 year old and fellow Yamaha Raptor 700 rider Jeremias González Ferioli. The Polish rider took extra care today not to get caught out in the final stage and rode sensibly to 2015 title victory. He arrived at CP2 in eighth place, 8’16 minutes behind today’s winner Willem Saaijman, who kept fellow Yamaha rider Christophe Declerck at bay with just six seconds between them.
After the end ceremony the riders have earned some well-deserved rest. They have withstood more than 9000 km of incredible heat, terrible cold, rocks, bumps, fesh-fesh, mud, sand, and vegetation – something only the most hardened endurance riders can accomplish. The riders can be proud finishing the toughest rally-raid in the world and are already looking forward to their next adventures.
Olivier Pain – overall 10th / 3h09’09 – “To finish a Dakar is always an achievement and to finish in the top 10 is something to be proud of and I am happy to have got the bike home for the team who worked so hard, both prior to and during the rally. Of course we came here with the intention of challenging for the victory and so from that point of view my result is a disappointment. Although we did a lot of testing before the Dakar we lacked race kilometres. The base of the WR450F Rally is clearly good and the engine is strong and reliable, but the bike is effectively brand new and we need to develop it further if we are to realise its full potential.”
Xavier De Soultrait – Overall 13th / 04h20’18 – “My objective at the start of this, my second Dakar, was to finish in the top 20, so I’m very happy with my result. I am also happy that I learned a lot in the process – how to set up the bike, how to ride faster in the fesh-fesh. These things you can’t learn unless you come here to race. I think I can still progress as a privateer, but there is a limit to what you can achieve. The real solution for the future is to be able to do other races throughout the year, to be able to go testing, training in Morocco and this is the direction I would like to take now.”
Frans Verhoeven, overall 15th place / 5h13’40 – “A good way to end my Dakar career as a rider. These last few days I felt very comfortable on the bike and rode at the pace I used to ride. It is a pity I wasn’t able to participate in a race prior to the Dakar, because if I had I would have rode better the first week and a top 10 finish would have been possible. Of course, even if I stop as a rider, I will continue to be involved in rally-raid and enduro and have some interesting plans for the future.”