High five: Marc Coma secures fifth career Dakar bike title (VIDEO)


For the motorcycle kings of the Dakar Rally, their reign continues.

Marc Coma has officially captured his fifth career Dakar title and handed manufacturer KTM its 14th consecutive victory in the world’s toughest rally.

Sunday’s Stage 13 was impacted heavily by rain and the 174km special was stopped at the second check point (101 km) as a result. Ivan Jakes wound up taking his second stage win in three days by 45 seconds over his fellow Slovakian, Stefan Svitko.

As for Coma, he is now one Dakar win away from tying Stephane Peterhansel for the all-time lead in the bike category. The first six of Peterhansel’s 11 career Dakar wins came on two wheels during the 1990s.

“I’m happy and proud,” Coma said. “As usual, it was a grueling rally. We had to overcome a problem on the second day that slowed us down a bit in the rankings. So from then on, we had to change the strategy a little and push to recover that time.

“We knew that the marathons would be key stages and they were. I am happy with the team and the people we have around us. This fifth win says a lot about all of us.”

As mentioned, Coma’s run to another title started off a bit bumpy. Tire problems forced him to slow down in Stage 2, and his main rival from Honda, Joan “Bang Bang” Barreda, won the day and took over the overall lead.

But at the end of the first week came the “marathon” stage from Iquique, Chile into Bolivia and then back again. With assistance teams not allowed under marathon rules, it was critical for competitors to stay out of trouble for two days before seeing their crews again.

Barreda could not do that. In Stage 7 (Iquique to Uyuni, Bolivia), he crashed and was forced to ride the final 120 kilometers of the route with one handlebar. Coma was able to cut his overall deficit to “Bang Bang” in half.

Then came the game-changer: Stage 8 (Uyuni to Iquique), which began in miserable conditions on the Salar de Uyuni – the world’s largest salt lake. The flats were wet from rains the previous day, and the salt water mix caused problems for many a bike, including those of Barreda and Coma.

Once they escaped the Salar, Coma was able to get help from teammates in removing a salt/water blockage out of his radiator and soldiered to a ninth-place result.

Barreda wasn’t as lucky. An electrical problem rendered his Honda useless and he had to be towed the rest of the stage. As a result, Coma took the overall lead and he would never give it up for the rest of the rally.

“Our arrival in Bolivia heralded a decisive moment,” said Coma. “We knew that. I survived and made it through Salar de Uyuni. That was the key moment. So I’m very happy.

“[I’m] delighted to be here. It’s been a life’s work with the entire team, the ideal bike… Now, after so much effort, it’s time to relax and have fun.”

When Barreda’s hopes ended, Paulo Goncalves stepped up in his absence for the factory Honda squad, Team HRC.

He whittled Coma’s lead down to less than six minutes with four stages to go, but a 16-minute time penalty (15 for an engine change, one for speeding) in Thursday’s Stage 11 proved too much to overcome.

Even so, Goncalves’ runner-up is his best showing in the Dakar and puts to rest sad memories of his retirement in last year’s Stage 5, when he was reduced to tears as his bike went up in flames before him.

“I’m happy to make it here in second place overall,” said Goncalves. “I started the rally in second place, then I fell to third and, in the end, I climbed back up.”

Rounding out the overall podium is Australian rookie Toby Price, who earned his first Dakar stage win in the penultimate Stage 12 to cement his third-place showing behind Coma and Goncalves.

“Being here in third place is insane,” Price said. “I’m at a loss for words. When I decided to sign up three or four months ago, I was quite nervous, I didn’t know what I was getting into.

“And now I’m on the finish line…[I’m] happy.”

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally concludes tomorrow with Stage 13 highlights at 6 a.m. ET.

2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Motorcycles
(After Stage 13 – Rosario to Buenos Aires, Argentina)

1. 1-Marc Coma (KTM), 46hrs, 3mins, 49secs
2. 7-Paulo Goncalves (Honda), + 16:53
3. 26-Toby Price (KTM), + 23:14
4. 31-Pablo Quintanilla (KTM), + 38:38
5. 18-Stefan Svitko (KTM), + 44:17
6. 11-Ruben Faria (KTM), + 1:57:50
7. 9-David Casteu (KTM), + 2:00:14
8. 21-Ivan Jakes (KTM), + 2:18:18
9. 29-Laia Sanz (Honda), + 2:24:21
10. 3-Olivier Pain (Yamaha), + 3:09:09

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws

The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)