Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain goes into Saturday’s final stage of the 2015 Dakar Rally with a 17 minute 49 lead over second place Honda rider Paolo Goncalves of Portugal.  The Stage 12 victory went to KTM rookie Toby Price of Australia who further consolidates his third overall position in the rankings. Second place on the day went to HRC rider Joan Barreda, who continues to ride well after the disastrous marathon stage that took him out of the lead.

Riders are now almost at the end of the 9,000 km journey in South America and on Friday traveled from Termas Rio Honda to Rosario in Argentina, a timed special of 298 km and a 725 km liaison section.

Coma finished a comfortable sixth in the stage sacrificing 6.25 of his lead time as he preserved tire wear and is now looking at the possibility of winning his fifth Dakar title.

The final stage into the finish line at Buenos Aires involves another 393 km, of which just 174 km is timed special. Should Coma succeed in taking the title, it will be a fourteenth victory for KTM in this epic annual race.

Coma said it had been another hard 300 km ride of Friday. “There was a lot to lose so it was important not to make any mistakes or crash. It is not easy to find the balance to ride like that but I am happy we are here. Today the tires were wearing a lot so I took care about that at the beginning of the special. I felt a bit fresher on the last part and made a good pace to the end. There are still some kilometers left, but the end is getting closer now. The conditions are always very tough all the time. The young riders are pushing a lot, so I have to use my energy. We spend all year preparing to arrive here in a good shape, so it’s time to spend that energy”.

Stage 12 was also an opportunity for Toby Price to illustrate his speed and skills. A passionate desert racer in Australia, Price is contesting his first Dakar Rally as a KTM-supported rider and has shown constant improvement of form as the rally has progressed.

At the beginning of this edition Price had ridden only in the Morocco Rally and was new to the navigation using the road book. Price said on Thursday that he was finally coming to grips with the navigation technique and this was illustrated on Friday when he rode a very strong stage throughout.

Price was in the lead at CP1 after 126 km and had accumulated a one minute 36 advantage over second placed Joan Barreda.  He stretched the lead to 1.46 by the 231km mark at CP2 and went on to win from Barreda by a margin of 1.55. Price has been in the top five in seven stages since the rally started on January 3.

Speaking after the stage, Price said he was aware that anything could still happen. “At this stage everything is just feeling good. We’re enjoying it, so it’s been a good experience. There have been a lot of highs and lows and good learning curves as well as a few mistakes, but we’re trying to fix them as best as we can and get to the finishing line. Hopefully, that will happen tomorrow. I always knew it was going to be difficult, but you don’t know until you actually come here and have a go. Then you find out how hard it really is.”

In the overall rankings Price now has a cushion of eleven minutes to KTM rider Pablo Quintanilla of Chile who is in fourth place, but whatever the outcome on Saturday, he can go away pleased with his debut ride.It was also a very good day for the Slovak duo of Ivan Jakes and Stefan Svitko, both riding KTM who finished Stage 12 in positions 4-5, ahead of Coma who opted to conserve his strength for the final push into Buenos Aires.

Red Bull KTM’s Rubin Faria finished twentieth, dropping 16.21 during the stage but stays at sixth on the overall rankings.

Stage Twelve Dakar 2015
Termas Rio Honda to Rosario – 725 km liaison, 298 km special (1024 km)
Stage Results (Provisional)

1, Toby Price, AUS, KTM 3 hours 19.04
2, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda at 1.55
3, Paolo Goncalves, POR Honda at 3.02
4, Ivan Jakes, SVK, KTM 3.08
5, Stefan Svitko, SVK, KTM at 5.01

6, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM at 6.25
7, Helder Rodrigues, POR, Honda, at 8.40
8, Pablo Qunitanilla, CHI, KTM at 10.07
9, Frans Verhoeven, NDL, Yamaha at 10.51
10, Lila Sanz, ESP, Honda, at 12.42

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