Fresh off the back of the MotoGP World Championship’s visit to Qatar, the Losail International Circuit once again opens its doors for a racing event this week. The venue is the starting point for the second round of the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, in which Marc Coma will be searching for a second victory of the season. The MRW rider was victorious ten days ago in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and heads to another Arab Emirate for Qatar’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally. The race begins tomorrow with the prologue, with the 4-stage rally proper running from Wednesday to Saturday. More than 1000km will be ridden against the clock.
How are you feeling ahead of this second round?
“Spirits are high after the result in Abu Dhabi. However, we are aware that this is a completely different country for us and that we have never ridden here before. Whether you like it or not, that always creates uncertainty and makes deciding a strategy difficult. Not knowing the country or the desert provides us with some unknowns, but we are talking about a short race of four stages that we will take day-by-day.”
You say that it is a new country and a new desert for you. What are you expecting to find?
“From the information that we have gathered and from the little that they have explained to us, this will be rather different terrain to Abu Dhabi despite their geographical proximity. We know that there is more rock in Qatar and the surface is much harder –there will be dunes, but far fewer in terms of the percentage of the course.”
Being a four-day race with different terrain, does your strategy differ to that of the first race?
“We don’t have everything set out yet, because there is very little information about the route and we will have to see what awaits us. Being a four-day race means that there is not much room for thinking things over, so the strategy is likely to be pushing hard all the time.”
The first race ended just ten days ago. Does having two events so close together affect you physically, spending 4-5 days in the desert and battling temperatures of over 40ºC?
“Abu Dhabi was a tough first race, but we have had sufficient time to recover and to be well prepared for this one. There has been a reasonable amount of time to spend a few days at home, which is always welcome and allows us to arrive in full form for the second round.”
What are your thoughts on your main rivals, who you will be facing again this week?
“They looked strong last time out. Maybe the strongest of them was Joan Barreda, who finished second, but the race decides things. We have to see what the navigation will be like and how difficult the dunes are going to be, because I think that this will change the dynamic of the race. In a short race, the most important thing is not making mistakes, as there is no room for rectification afterwards. You have to interpret the difficulty of each race well. We have to focus on ourselves and try to do the best that we can.”
After winning the first round of the World Championship, is there extra pressure on you as the favourite or are you more relaxed?
“It has given me much more calm. Winning is a good sign, because it indicates that you are doing things well and that we are in good shape. The first race is in the past now though, we have to focus on Qatar and what we are going to come up against here. We will need to be alert from the start, because it is a very short race.”