Dubai: Quad-bike star Sebastian Hussaini has said he ”definitely” wants to take part in the Dakar Rally again after a creditable sixth-place finish in his debut in the gruelling event last month.
Hussaini told Gulf News he was delighted with his performance, especially since he had had to endure a host of physical and mental challenges.
He suffered altitude sickness and gearbox failure and even witnessed the aftermath of a fatal crash involving French motorcyclist Thomas Bourgoin, for instance.
But the plucky and determined Hussaini overcame such adversity to finish sixth out of 23 finishers (40 competitors had started the race) in the quad category.
The 27-year-old, who was racing with the Netherlands-based Maxxis Dakar team in the annual off-road race in South America, said: “I’d definitely take part in the event again. I came second in six stages and first in one, which I feel was a really good performance for a first-timer.”
One of Hussaini’s most testing moments was when gearbox failure meant his team had to make their way through a narrow gorge full of fesh-fesh (slippery and dusty sand). It took them two-and-a-half hours to cover 30 metres, although thankfully one kind rider stopped to help them push the heavy quads through the gorge.
Then, during stage eight of the punishing race, between Salta and San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina, Hussaini suffered badly from altitude sickness.
He was given oxygen due to the effects of being at a height of 4,975 metres but still managed to finish the stage in fourth place.
The accident suffered by Frenchman Bourgoin was also a chastening reminder to the Emirati ace of the risks the Dakar Rally poses, he admitted.
But Hussaini was determined to get to the finish line, having dreamt of taking part in the world-renowned event when he was a young boy riding quads in the UAE desert.
Hussaini, who was born to a Lebanese father and Dutch mother and bred in Dubai, has an impressive quad-biking pedigree. In 2007, he became the quad cross-country world champion and is a three-time winner of the UAE Desert Challenge.
He regularly trains hard in the deserts of Dubai and the mountain areas of Fujairah with biker Sam Sunderland, and is helped with his rigorous regime by Fabien Rabeau, a fitness trainer.
He studied in Dubai at The International School of Choueifat and graduated from the American University with a degree in business administration.
Next on the agenda for Hussaini is the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the spring.