Dubai: Shaikh Suhail Bin Khalifa and Wael Marjan made a memorable return to the podium to drive away with the 1000 Dunes Rally that concluded at the Dragon Mart Mall on Saturday.
Shaikh Suhail and Marjan, who had taken a one-year break from rallying, made the victory even sweeter as they took their second title after a 11-year absence to put themselves as the frontrunners to keep the coveted golden sword for keeps.
Only Khalifa Al Mutaiwa'a and Ahmad Bin Sougat have won the golden sword three times or more.
Sponsored by City of Arabia, Shaikh Suhail and Marjan were dominant throughout this three-day rally in their Land Rover as they finished at the top of the 24-car entry list with a time of two hours, 12 minutes and 49 seconds.
Thani Al Falasi and Yacoub Mohammad kept hard on the trail, but had to stay content with second place in a time of 2:16.50.
Abdullah Al Huraiz and Ali Mirza prevented a clean sweep by the Land Rovers as they drove their Nissan Patrol into third place with a time of 2:20.03.
Khalid Al Malek, Director-General of Emirates Motor Sports Federation (EMSF), was joined by Hamad Al Mazroeei, EMSF Vice Chairman, and Faisal Yousuf, Leasing Manager of Dragon Mart Mall, at the prize presentation.
"I drove without any pressure as I had done most of the hard work the previous day," Shaikh Suhail told Gulf News.
It was not all smooth going for the winner as Shaikh Suhail did have a bit of a problem with the gearbox.
But once that was resolved, there was no stopping him. It was Al Falasi who kept the pressure on the leader in the absence of Shaikh Hamad Bin Eid Al Thani. "We would have preferred to have all the drivers so that we could really compete against each other," said Al Falasi.
"We have worked with a few limitations this year due to the different projects taking place. Our aim is to spread out the rally to places like Sharjah and Abu Dhabi for next year," revealed Khalid Malek.
The rally was held under the patronage of Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum.
1. Shaikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum/Wael Marjan - Land Rover (2:12.49); 2. Thani Al Falasi/Yacoub Mohammad - Land Rover (2:16.50); 3. Abdullah Al Huraiz/Ali Mirza - Nissan Patrol (2:20.03); 4. Ali Hassan/Ali Dadi - Nissan Patrol (2:21.09); 5. Abdullah Al Ketbi/Rashid Al Shamsi - Land Rover (2:24.37).