Interview with Marc Coma: The dream of the boy from Avia
In his fourth participation, this natural and extroverted endurance rider is living right now a dream coming true, although he admits that there are many aims left to reach
He is in Dakar and he just made one of his dreams come true. After stepping on the podium today, as runner-up of the Barcelona-Dakar 2005, the time has come to take a break and reflect on what has happened. In a room of the Hotel Le Meridien, mythic scenery of the arrivals in the legendary Dakar, Marc tells us some of the secrets of his special relationship with this race.
You've always dreamed about experiencing a moment like this, in fact, since you were a little boy. How does it feel after enjoying your first podium in the Dakar?
"I remember perfectly well being a little boy and collecting picture cards of the Dakar. It was a dream, something very far away, because I was still very young. Now that's very far away, and I'm here, watching that I'm part of all this. This is a proof that in life, if you put your mind to something and you make sacrifices for it, you can make is. Maybe not everybody can make it, but with effort and work, you have big chances to achieve it."
When did you begin noticing that your dream might come true?
"I felt very much attracted by this world and I followed more or less the usual path all riders follow to get here: I started with endurance races and bit by bit I found the way to get to Africa. I'll always be especially thankful to Carlos Sotelo; he brought me here for the first time and trusted in me. That's how I began to make my first steps here, sometimes moving forward, sometimes backwards and I finally managed to be where I always wanted to be. It's difficult to progress in this world, but we've managed to do so step by step."
I guess you'll hardly have time to see any image of the race during the rally, not only images of yourself, but also of your team-mates, of their tired and suffering faces, of the cars flying over African roads, of the dust, the dunes... When you get back home and have the chance to see those images, what does Marc Coma think about?
"When you see all those images on TV, the first thing that comes to your mind is that you're not watching the same race. Everything looks so different from what you think you have experienced... You are concentrated on your race and you don't see your face in a mirror nor have time and will to see certain details. So in the end, what you think about it is, what an amazing race! How tough, people fighting to move on, taking strength from where there is hardly any left, the tiredness, the dirt... If you stop to think about it, you think that you're watching another race."
For a rider of the Motorcycle World Championship, for example, the highest aspiration is to race the MotoGP and take part in the 16 Grand Prix. However, for an endurance rider, everything has to do with 16 days and a single race. What does the Dakar have that makes it so special and unique?
"The Dakar is a single race, but the 16 days are something like 6 Grand Prix weekends. We prepare this race during the whole year and therefore we take part in other races of the World Enduro Championship. I often think about athletes; they have Olympic Games every four years and throughout this time they compete to prepare for them. Well, we have a similar case, but fortunately we have a Dakar every year. The Dakar is the excellence in our speciality; due to its charm, its repercussion and the follow-up in the media and by the fans..."
The Dakar has left you some physical marks, like that little scar in your face after the accident you had last year forcing you to retire. Does the Dakar mark you inside as well?
"Yes, with no doubt. This race marks you and helps you to value things we're usually not conscious about. Now I'm comfortably sitting on a sofa, with my hands clean, without dust... Yesterday evening I was able to have dinner seated, I had a warm shower, slept in a bed... All of this has no value at all for most of us, because it's what we usually do, we're used to comfort. This race definitely changes you and makes you think about many things."
What does Marc Coma think he has achieved today in the Dakar?
"Well, on a personal level, I've made a dream come true, something I had been dreaming of since I was a child. On a sporting level I think that I have achieved something important but we have to keep on working hard to climb the left step of the podium and continue learning, because my evolution shouldn't stop now. Getting this podium is not only my merit, there's also a group of people behind me, and without them I would not have been able to get this result. Starting with Repsol and my personal sponsors, who have supported me unconditionally, then there are Jordi Arilla and Zenit, owners of the team, KTM, Jordi Arcarons and, obviously, Manel Salinas --my mechanic- and the rest of the team who have been taking care day after day that I wouldn't miss anything and that everything works perfectly well. It's been real teamwork and the merit is of them all."
You are a natural person, you like to be surrounded by your people, you enjoy being in your hometown --Avia-, and you are not very fond of fame and people disturbing your privacy. Have you thought about the fact, that once you get home this all may change because now you're going to be much more popular?
"Well, the truth is that I hadn't thought of it yet. I'm very grateful for all those who have supported and encouraged me, but I hope to continue being Marc Coma from Avia as always and that all of this won't change my life because I'm happy like this, with my family and friends."