Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge takes on an exciting new global stage for cross-country rallying over the next five days, with the sport’s top international talent battling it out for top honors so spectacular.
Taking place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the sovereign’s representative in the Al Dhafra region, the 31st edition of the rally exerts additional fascination as the second round of the new world rally-raid championship .
“It is an exciting time for the event, and we thank His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his continued support as we usher in a new era for the rally raid community,” said Mahir Badri. , CEO of Emirates. Motorsports Organization (EMSO), organizers of the rally.
“The constant support and encouragement we have received from the authorities of the United Arab Emirates over the years has allowed us to create a very special rally, now one of the five elite events that make up the new world championship, which has great potential for growth.
“The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is unlike any other rally-raid in the world, with a unique combination of harsh and unforgiving deserts creating extreme driving conditions, coupled with first-class facilities and infrastructure, and an official HQ on the one of the most advanced F1 venues in the world.
“We encountered challenges in staging the event for the second time in four months, but we received outstanding support from the UAE government, strategic partners and sponsors. Without their unconditional and continued commitment, the rally would have struggled to survive for four decades.
Badri was joined by a list of major sponsors and top competitors for today’s official press conference at Yas Marina Circuit, the rally’s official headquarters in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Saif Al Noaimi, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “We are very pleased to extend our longstanding partnership with EMSO and to play our part in ensuring that this event continues to showcase Abu Dhabi as a classy sporting destination. world.
“The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is one of the premier international cross-country rallies in the world, and the Yas Marina Circuit is proud of its role in helping the event achieve its impressive record of success.”
After today’s (Saturday) Yas Island super special 2km stage for motorbikes and quads from 2pm, the Abu Desert Challenge will head to the Al Dhafra dunes tomorrow morning for the first of five test stages, ultimately leading to the finish at Yas Marina Circuit. Thursday afternoon.
The Representative Court of the Ruler of Al Dhafra region provides significant logistical support for the organization of the event in some of the most breathtaking desert regions of the world.
The other strategic partners of the rally are the Ministry of Defence, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, ADNOC Distribution, Al-Futtaim Toyota, Abu Dhabi Police, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, the Abu Dhabi Aviation, National Ambulance, Abu Dhabi Municipality, Abu Dhabi Distribution Company. ., Al Dhafra Region Municipality, Al-Ain Water, Abu Dhabi Sports TV, Civil Defense and Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center.
Today’s press conference lineup included nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, who is making his Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge debut, reigning champion Nasser Al Attiyah, and Stéphane Peterhansel, who won the test six times on four wheels as well as once on two wheels.
Asked this week about his formula for success in the event, Peterhansel said: “There is always a risk of getting stuck in the sand or jumping off and crushing the car. If you always drive at 100% of the car’s capacity, it’s easy to make a mistake. For me, the first priority is to take the time to learn the dunes, and when you start to get really confident, you go a little faster. But always be careful.
Other drivers present at the press conference were Emirati Yahya Al Helei, maintaining his 100% appearance record in the rally, Spaniard Cristina Gutierrez, winner of the FIA T3 World Cup l Last year, the reigning American T4 champion Austin Jones, and the Czech Martin Macik one of the leading specialists in the exciting category of trucks.
The line-up of top riders included Sam Sunderland, who is aiming for a third moto crown in the event, reigning Austrian champion Mathias Walkner, 2018 Chilean winner Pablo Quintanilla, American Skyler Howes, a new force in the Husqvarna factory team. and Argentinian Kevin Benavides.
Also present at the press conference were Botswana’s Ross Branch, who won last year’s first stage before a crash the following day put him out of contention, and Emirati Abdulaziz Ahli, who is defending his title in quads.