KTM’s lead factory riders ran out of luck on stage three of the Morocco Rally with Despres dropping to second overall after finishing 11th in the stage. Marc Coma crashed heavily and later had to withdraw due a dislocated shoulder.
Not long into the day’s 357 km ride between Erfoud and Zaragora, Coma crashed in an off-piste area covered in camel grass. Hitting a pile of sand with his rear wheel he was catapulted over the handlebars of his KTM 450 Rally bike. Portugal's Helder Rodrigues, who was following Coma stopped to assist him until Coma’s KTM factory teammate stayed with him until the arrival of the helicopter. He was moved to a hospital in Er Rachidia for x-rays and it was established he had dislocated but not fractured his shoulder. He is now on his way back to Spain and will undergo full medical checks in Barcelona tomorrow.
Race leader Despres, began to suspect something had happened to his teammate when he failed to see dust from the other bike. He then suffered a lapse of concentration and made several navigational errors, eventually finishing eleventh in the stage and sacrificing his significant lead built up over the first two days. He now trails Rodrigues by 11 minutes going into the fourth stage.
With the top three riders suffering problems it opened the door for Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain’s Paulo Goncalves to grab the stage win. With Rodrigues awarded back the time lost in assisting Coma, Goncalves finished just three seconds ahead of rival Rodrigues.
“Stage three was the fastest stage of the rally so far with such a lot of navigation to do,” confirmed Goncalves. “I managed not to make any mistakes and I kept up the concentration until the end. This victory was just what was needed for me and for the team who are doing a great job with the bike. The developments are going really well and I’m very confident.”
Finishing second overall Rodrigues said, “I started third behind Marc. I was pushing to catch him but, after a while, because of the dust I didn’t know where he was. Then I saw a badly damaged bike. I saw Marc and I stopped to assist him. I called the CP course for medical help, and assisted him in opening his jacket and handing him a cap for sun protection. Many riders didn’t stop but for me it’s normal, it's part of the race. In the desert, if someone crashes and it looks serious I stay with him and assist him. Then, when the first two riders arrived, I continued my race, pushing hard because I wanted to gain time on Cyril for a higher position in the overall classification. I’m now leading and this is a very good result after the first 3 stages with my CRF 450 Rally”.
Chaleco Lopez (KTM) finished third, two minutes 50 seconds behind the leader.
Results Stage Three
1, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal Husqvarna, 2 hours 52,24
2, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda +3secs
3, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM, +2mins 50secs
4, Joan Barrera, Spain, Husqvarna +5min 28secs
5, David Casteu, France, Yamaha +5min 49secs
Overall Standings after Stage 3
1, Rodrigues, 9 hours 29min 42secs
2, Despres, +11 min 1secs
3, Barreda +16 min 21secs
4, Goncalves +17 min 35secs
5, Lopez +26min 35secs