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Marc Coma Cross Country Rally World Champion
Biography of the Spanish rider
hree years ago an intruder slipped into the Dakar elite. He was a beginner. An unknown name for the "Africans", although the Spanish Enduro scene already knew Marc Coma's talent. On an experimental motorbike called CSV, sponsored by Carlos
Sotelo, Coma finished the muddy European prologues in sixth place. In Africa he managed to keep himself among the top twenty, and the day his bike broke down, he was making the tenth fastest time of the stage.
The following year, in 2003, within the official KTM structure, having Nani Roma and Isidre Esteve as team-mates and with the support of Repsol YPF, Coma got his first chance to race a Dakar with adequate means and he didn't waste it. Riding his single-cylinder and in the middle of a pack full of fast and powerful twin-cylinder bikes, Coma more than achieved his objective finishing the Dakar in eleventh position with four third places in different stages.

Marc Coma, motorbike rider from his youngest years, had racing background at home. His father, Ricard, managed to finish fifth at the Spanish Senior Motocross Championship. There was always a motorbike at home. Both his father and his uncle were big fans and it finally went over to little Marc. The first bike he rode was a Montesa Cota 348 under the guidance of his uncle and at the age of eight. While he was still learning, Marc used every moment of inattentiveness of his uncle to get on the Cota and disappear on the mountain tracks around his home.

After his uncle's trial bike he got his own one, a Puch Cobra 74 with which he had his first "races" with friends in his hometown. Then, and always subject to good grades at school, he got a motocross Honda CR 125, with which he began to take part in his first real races. These first races were followed by regional championships, county championships and finally the national championships. He dedicated himself to this speciality until the age of 18 but Marc didn't see his future on circuits, so before giving up to look for a job he thought to try luck in Enduro. Marc had already made up his mind and wanted to try to become a professional rider.

From that moment on Marc focussed on Enduro and the first victories and sporting successes arrived quickly. In 1995, Coma became Spanish Junior Champion in the Over 175cc class on a 250cc KTM. After that title, Marc joined the National Enduro Team and got the silver medal at the Enduro World Championship of the following year. That result was followed by several other brilliant results in the years to come, such as the fourth place in the European Senior Enduro Championship, the under 23 Enduro World Championship, the Enduro World Championship for Nations and a third place in the Enduro World Championship for Nations.

But the Dakar had already drawn his attention and in 2002, Carlos Sotelo, former Dakar rider, offered Marc the chance to ride a bike that had been built by Sotelo himself, the CSV with a Suzuki single-cylinder engine, at the Arras-Madrid-Dakar. As long as the bike and the mechanical parts survived, Marc lived an incredible experience and even managed to clinch a sixth place in one of the initial stages. He couldn't finish the race, but the Dakar had already got him. That same season he tried luck at the Baja Aragón and in his first participation finished second.

In 2003 Marc got back to the Dakar, this time on a KTM with Nani Roma and Isidre Esteve. Despite competing on a single cylinder and breaking his wrist on one of the last days of the rally, Coma reached Dakar in eleventh place, an excellent result considering his little experience in this race. As a reward for his performance, Marc Coma had the chance to be back at the Dakar 2004 with the same team and team-mates. He was being the perfect squid for Joan Roma and Isidre Esteve, but five stages before the end of the race, he suffered a heavy crash, where his bike hit him on his head. Coma lost consciousness for some instants but fortunately the initial alarm gave way to relief after the medical check revealed that there were no serious injuries but a strong hit on the head and on his right wrist. And relief gave way to helplessness, because it meant the end of his participation in the big African raid.

Second place in the UAE Desert Challenge.
With the firm objective of continuing with his learning process, Marc Coma had a brilliant start of the 2004 season at the Raids World Cup. Marc finished second overall in the first round staged in Tunisia, with three stage victories in his private account. He was second again in Morocco and together with his team-mate Isidre Esteve took a historical one-two finish for the Repsol KTM Team, stepping on the two highest steps of the podium. Coma took part in the Sardinia Rally, finishing on a meritorious sixth place, preparing his participation in the Baja Aragón. And that preparation together with the excellent shape of the young rider turned out to be essential, because he managed to take the victory of the prestigious race for the first time in his sports career. But not everything would be joy. He was on his way to finish second at the Rally of Egypt, but the sudden death of Richard Sainct made all KTM riders decide to retire from the race as a tribute. The last race of the Championship didn't benefit Marc either because, despite winning two of the four stages, the rear wheel shaft of his bike broke, hindering him from fighting for the victory of the Arab Emirates' raid. Marc was finally seventh overall ins the Raids World Cup.

In constant progression, Marc Coma proved to be fast and reliable throughout the 2004 season, two essential requirements to be ready to fight for the Dakar 2005. And Marc faced it with a clear idea in mind: making up for the previous year. However, this target made him only get obsessed and he never managed to ride calm, clearly measuring the risks he was taking. He led the race on several occasions and although he would have agreed to the result before the start right away, in the end, the second place didn't feel enough. It did not reflect all he had done in the race, all he could have done and all he had suffered. Coma had a superb performance and could have won the race. He was capable and very self-secure, no crash, taking good care of the bike and following the plan step by step. Unfortunately he was faced with little mishaps, such as running out of fuel three kilometres before the refuelling. He was able to continue thanks to his team-mate Gio Sala, but lost some valuable minutes. The cancellation of legs that could have been favourable to him and especially the death of "El Carni" and Meoni touched him, although he was always among the top.

In his fourth participation in the Dakar, this natural and extroverted enduro rider made one of his dreams come true, although there were several other targets to achieve. Already consolidated as one of the best riders worldwide, Marc Coma faced the 2005 Cross Country Rally World Championship in high spirits and was also looking forward to other national and international races. Mechanical problems hindered him from finishing the "Nevada McMillin 1000" and the Baja España Aragón, but he ended up taking the victory of the prestigious Sardinia Rally. He participated in four of the seven scoring rounds of the World Championship. He won two, the Rally de las Pampas in Argentina and Rally des Pharaons in Egypt; he finished second in the ORPI Rally Morocco and had to retire from the Rally Dos Sertoes in Brazil while clearly leading the race. He reached the last round in Dubai leading the standings and when it seemed that luck was turning him the back causing him again problems with the battery he had already suffered in Egypt, he finally managed to finish second at the UAE Desert Challenge and to clinch his first world title. A fair and deserved reward for his efforts and sacrifice.

This season and at the young age of 28 years, the Spaniard has become a reference rider in raids. The experience and maturity he has gathered will surely help him to face his main target with guarantees: the 2006 Dakar Rally, where he will arrive in top personal and physical shape.
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