FIM World Champion, KTM's Marc Coma has ridden his KTM 690 machine to a triumphant victory in the UAE Desert Challenge Rally, defeating fellow KTM riders Cyril Despres and Pal Ullevalseter for the top spot on of the podium.

The event, which serves as the final test in the desert sands before the notorious Dakar Rally in January was therefore a clean sweep of the podiums for the Austrian-made KTM machines.

"The race wasn't easy," the Spanish specialist said." It was good to have a close fight between me, Cyril and Pal. I just started out to try to catch Cyril today and when I was in front I had to concentrate because one mistake would spoil everything." Coma knows what he is talking about. In January 2007 he had amassed an impressive lead in the Dakar and seemed certain to take the title going into the second last day but instead had to concede to Despres and return home with an injured shoulder.

Despres, a four times winner of the Desert Challenge said he hadn't come "looking for second place". It had been his first desert ride since last year and he immediately leaves for Baja Mexico to compete in another legendary tough race, the Baja 1000.

Nevertheless Despres made Coma work for the honor of top podium place in this year's UAE Desert Challenge. He had honed the overall margin between himself and the Spaniard down to a mere 1 minute 28 seconds on the penultimate day and set the scene for the race to go down to the wire. Despres, first out on Friday was then faced with the task of laying down the track in the soft desert sand while Coma could follow in his tracks and wait for the right opportunity. The Spaniard eventually crossed the finish line with a margin of five minutes six seconds.

Former world champion Ullevalseter of Norway said he had been very happy with the performance of his KTM. "This was a successful test for me," he said. In all, KTM riders stole no less than seven of the top ten places, underlining the dominance of the offroad machines from the Austrian factory in what is surely some of the most testing terrain in the world of motor sport.

Not so fortunate was KTM's Jordi Viladoms, a close rival of the front runners who took a fall on the second race day and had to retire from the race. KTM Rally Team Boss Hans Trunkenpolz confirmed that medical examinations revealed bruising but no serious injury and said he was sure it raised no questions about Viladoms being fit and ready for the Dakar race.

Trunkenpolz said he was very satisfied with the results of the Desert Challenge which showed the KTM factory rider line-up was in very good shape ahead of the Dakar. "The bikes went well, "he said. "Apart from Viladoms crash on the second race day we had no problems at all from start to finish."

The FTM factory rally team also took advantage of the spectacular desert scenery to carry out the official team photo shooting ahead of the Dakar 2008, the defining event in this discipline of motor sport.

Results

1. Marc Coma KTM

2. Cyril Despres KTM

3. Pal Anders Ullevalseter KTM

4. James West Honda

5. Francisco Lopez KTM

6. Jean Azevedo KTM

7. Michael Angerer KTM

8. Steve Blackney Honda

9. Ruben Faria KTM

10. Sebastian Husseini Suzuki

Final World Standings

1. Marc Coma KTM 125

2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter KTM 82

3. David Casteu KTM 66

4. Matteo Graziani KTM 54

5. Cyril Despres KTM 47

6. Marek Dabrowski KTM 47

7. Jordi Viladoms KTM 42

8. Jose Manuel Pellicer KTM 36

9. Marcel Butuza KTM 34

10. Jean Azevedo KTM 29

11. Jaime Prohens KTM 27

12. Justin Carter KTM 22

13. Gerard Farres KTM 20

14. Davide Volpe KTM 19

15. Jackson Feuback KTM 18

Off-Road Racing News

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