Five-time Dakar winner announced his decision to retire yesterday evening. The legendary rider took victories in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014 and again this year and leaves the competition as the reigning champion.
"I'm retiring because I think it's the right time", says Coma. "After 12 Dakar races, five wins and all those kilometres I've raced, I need to be honest with myself and everyone that's backed me over all these years: KTM, where I've always felt at home, and all my sponsors. Thanks to you all".
But if anyone thought that Coma woulds be walking away from the rally that has defined his career, or maybe transfering to racing on four-wheels in the event as his long-time rival Cyril Despres has done, they'd be wrong. Coma will take on the role of Sporting Director for the Dakar, helping to run the epic event.
“This level of responsibility is an opportunity for me to put back into the rally everything that the Dakar has given me,” says Coma about his new position.“I still feel a bit like a competitor, but since I've started working, I get the feeling that I will be looking at the race from different angles. I know that it's the right time for me. My goal is to put all my energy into ensuring that the Dakar remains the greatest rally in the world and my philosophy is to give priority to a sense of adventure.
“As a new sportive director of Dakar I will have the chance to give back all the energy that somehow the rally has given me."
Coma will start straight away in his new role, helping the events director Etienne Lavigne to put together the 2016 version on the infamous rally, and will be out researching and riding routes in South America this month.
With both legends Coma and Despres now moving on from the motorcycle event, it's an ideal time for new talent to come to the fore, and KTM will be hoping that it can be one of their riders that can continue their winning run in the event. For British interests, Sam Sunderland would be the dream man to do the job, but after issues on past events, he's going to have to step up to fill Coma's Alpinestars.
Images: Rallyzone Bauer/ Barni & Red Bull Content pool
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