Five-time Dakar Rally champion Marc Coma has been named the new Sporting Director of the rally, closing the door on his quest to win a sixth championship in the world’s toughest cross-country race.

The news comes as a little bit of a surprise to a lot of people, many of whom thought that Coma would once again ride for KTM in the 2016 staging of the rally. But by assuming this new role as sporting director for the rally, any thought of actually competing in the race and vie to sit on equal terms with the great Stephane Peterhansel has been shut down.

While it’s a little disappointing to know that Coma won’t compete in the 2016 Dakar Rally, it’s also exciting to see that one of the series’ most decorated riders will now have a big hand in organizing the entire event. He won’t be as visible as he was in the past, but rest assured, his impact will be far greater now that he’s a part of management.

It certainly didn’t take long for Coma to work on his new role and responsibilities. Multiple reports indicate that the Dakar legend is already scheduled to spend most of July reporting to the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the company that owns the Dakar Rally. From there, Coma is expected to spend a lot of time in South America, looking for and testing potential routes that could be added to the race.

They’re only small samples of the kind of work Coma will now have on his plate now that he’s the Sporting Director of the Dakar Rally. It’s not the kind of role we’ve gotten used to, but if he puts as much time and effort into it as he did winning the rally five times, I’d say that the event has been placed in pretty good hands.

Continue reading to read more about Marc Coma’s new role as the Sporting Director of the Dakar Rally.

Why it matters

I admit to being caught off guard with this news like most people did. Before it came out that Marc Coma had accepted a job to be the new Sporting Director of the Dakar Rally, a lot of people were under the assumption that Coma was actually returning to vie for his sixth title in 2016. There were even whispers that he was either going to race cars or race for KTM again.

Well, all that talk of him winning his sixth Dakar Rally title has effectively been closed now that he’s assumed a pretty important management position.

On the short term, this is a bummer because we all got excited to see Coma back in action at the rally. But if you look at it from a long term point-of-view, this is actually the more logical step for Coma, who will remain involved in the competition, albeit in a far different capacity than what we’re used to.

The responsibilities are certainly a lot different now but according to Coma himself, it’s a chance for him to give back to the event after everything it had done for him during his long and illustrious rally racing career.

From my angle, the Amaury Sport Organization, the company that owns the Dakar Rally, couldn’t have picked a better man for the role of Sporting Director. Coma knows the rally inside and out so he’s assuming this role armed with plenty of knowledge and experience on what it’s going to take to stage a successful event. The fact that he’s already putting in the work ahead of next year’s race is a sign that the ASO made the right choice in choosing him for this role.

In some ways, I’m still excited for the 2016 Dakar Rally. It’s just a different form of excitement now.

What do you think?
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