Dubai: Abu Dhabi Aviation, a leading commercial helicopter operator in the region, will provide the potentially life-saving search and rescue (SAR) support for the medical crews during the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge this weekend.
While top drivers and riders from the Middle East and overseas battle it out in the rally powered by Nissan, this team will be working just as hard behind the scenes in the first sports science research project of its kind.
Safety is always a top priority in the Desert Challenge, which has been part of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies since 1993, and this time the medical team on board will also study the effects of fatigue in order to assess the risk of competitor error.
The findings of the research team being assembled by the rally organisers, the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), will be presented to the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, and the FIM, the International Motorcycling Federation, and also made available to other national motorsport authorities and event organisers worldwide.
Another crucial link in the safety and research operation is provided by Adnoc, which is meeting the rally’s need for more than 25,000 litres of fuel — petrol and diesel for the cars, bikes and support vehicles, and aviation fuel for the helicopters.
To reduce flying time and speed rescue operations, Adnoc will set up mobile refuelling bases in the desert, in addition to fixed refuelling bases at the bivouac, the rally’s desert base for four nights, and in Madinat Zayed.
“Without the support of Abu Dhabi Aviation and Adnoc, the Desert Challenge simply wouldn’t happen,” said Mohammad Bin Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE and FIA Vice-President. “We’re indebted to them for the huge amount of assistance they provide.
“Safety of competitors is our No 1 priority, and that’s why we’ve commissioned a research project this year to see how fatigue affects competitors in events like this. We want to make the sport safer for all competitors by reducing the risk of accidents.”
The ATCUAE research team studying the effects of fatigue on competitors will be led by Dr Tadhg MacIntyre, Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at the University of Limerick in Ireland.