As Dakar’s new Sporting Director Marc Coma has taken on a more visual role for next January’s rally.
Taking to the stage in Paris for Wednesday’s official presentation of the route, Coma confirmed that he’s spent an entire year relearning a race he thought he knew inside out.
While not wanting to give too much of the game away, we caught up with the five-time Dakar winner to get an understanding of what’s in store in South America.
There has been a lot of emphasis on navigation this year, how important is that for Dakar 2017?
“Our philosophy is to bring the navigation to where it has to be. This is Dakar. With the new rules we are going in a new direction but to say one stage is more difficult I cannot tell you.”
What difficulties and challenges lie in store for the riders in Dakar 2017?
“The difficulty will be the combination of a lot of things in one day and that is what makes the day hard. There are days where we have altitude, sand, technical riding, navigation, we have it all.
“There is not one stage where you can start in the morning, ride flat-out and arrive at the end. You have to handle all the elements and I think that is what makes it interesting this year."
Do you think anyone will run away with things or is it going to be a fight to the finish?
“I think we will also see a lot positions change during the rally. One day you win a lot of time, another day you lose. One day will suit one rider and another the next day – like a very interesting game!”
It all sounds like a return to the old days, days that suited you, do you wish you were riding if it's so hard like this!
“Of course, yeah! For me this is what makes it interesting, but I don’t mind watching from the sidelines now!”
Photo: L. Redinger