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In conversation with Marc Coma at the Merzouga Rally

Five times Dakar champion talks to us about Indian riders and much more

Question: There are lots of Indians racing this year, what do you think of their standards?
Marc Coma: We are very happy to have so many riders from India. It’s very interesting; they have a lot of potential. Also, Dakar Challenge is difficult so there is a lot of potential. There is lot of interesting things to learn here.

Q: Baja was the first time that Dakar came to India, were you happy with the way it was organised and also by the quality of riders?
Marc: Of course, we are very happy. Santosh opened to Dakar for Indians some years ago, and year after year there are more Indians coming.

Q: What should be done to get the riders at the top level?
Marc: It’s a long way to arrive, it is not easy. The only way is to do a lot of races like here now. Also, like the Baja race. And with the number of competitors participating, they are getting better.

Q: You got some interest from manufacturers in India to participate in Dakar, apart from TVS and Hero?
Marc: Yes, they are here in factory projects. This is a very consistent project. There is nothing to complain about the Japanese and KTM project. And you know, you don’t get the project easily, it’s a long way but this is good for the discipline.

Q: More events in India?
Marc: Yes, this part of the world has the potential and we have to work together to do interesting stuff.

Q: What about other parts of the world in terms of the Dakar challenge?
Marc: Yes, Dakar Challenge and Dakar Series has been happening in Africa, America, South America , North America and Middle East. So it is a consistent calendar to meet the Dakar standards.

Q: Are these events more challenging in terms of navigation?
Marc: Navigation is a big part of the result. These kinds of races do help but the riders have to improve and we are using the same rules as Dakar, GPS systems. And the dimensions are same too, in terms of the total distance of the race. But for us when one rider finishes the race in Merzouga, it means that he is ready for Dakar.

Q: What about the level of participants at Merzouga?
Marc: Amateur riders come for participating, to experience, we have some of them who decide at the last moment and we have factory teams working on bikes to get the right model. We have different lines of teams and riders too.

Q: Will you look at the Himalayas for an event?
Marc: We have to look at everything of course, and why not.

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EVO India

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