Marc Coma Retires And Ricky Brabec Injury Update

Marc Coma retires
Photo Courtesy of Red Bull Photo Files

Red Bull KTM Factory Rally Team’s Marc Coma stunned the rally world late last week when he announced his retirement from racing. He currently leads the FIM Cross-country Rallies World Championship after four of the six rounds by a massive amount—70 points to current second-place Jakub Piatek’s 46—while chasing a seventh world championship and was expected to be the favorite for a sixth Dakar championship (which is not part of the FIM series), which he’s ridden 12 times.

Instead, the all-conquering Spaniard goes out on top, though he’ll remain an integral part of the sport after accepting the position of Sporting Director for ASO, Dakar’s organizing body.

Coma admitted ASO’s proposal came as a surprise even to him: "My first reaction was 'Wow!' I was in shock!"

“Winning the Dakar five times was already a dream [come true] for me, but now I realize just how lucky I am. Being part of the organizing team with this level of responsibility is an opportunity for me to put back into the rally everything that the Dakar has given me.”

He added, “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.”

Coma’s retirement still leaves a Red Bull KTM with a strong lineup—Ruben Faria, Sam Sunderland, Jordi Viladoms and Matthias Walkner—as well as a number of other robust satellite teams. Still, Team HRC and Yamaha as well as other, smaller teams can only see this as improving their odds so the remaining races this year will be even more interesting to watch in the lead-up to Dakar 2016.

One of those with a stake in things is Ricky Brabec. The reigning champ in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series is, of course, spending the summer on the mend after his injury at round six last month. He had three surgeries (fusing his neck and plating his collarbone and clutch hand), but he no longer has to wear his neck brace and is fairly ambulatory, though he’s not back on the bike yet.

Asked how he was doing, he replied, “I feel good as new!” Brabec has three doctor appointments in the next two weeks, and he’ll learn then when he can start riding again. In his mind, he believes it will be before round seven in Panaca, Nevada, on August 22, giving him a chance to overcome the 13-point deficit between him and points leader Ivan Ramirez, though he’ll have only two rounds to accomplish that.