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Dubai: World Cup cross country rallying returns to the Al Qudra desert next month when the Dubai International Baja takes place under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

Drawing leading riders and drivers from overseas to challenge the Gulf’s top competitors from March 7-9, the event forms the second round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas for cars and buggies and the opening round of this year’s FIM Bajas World Cup for bikes and quads.

Poland’s Jakub Przygonski and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul followed up their fourth place in Russia with victory in Dubai on their way to securing the 2018 World Cup title in the FIA cross country rally series. Top Emirati rider Mohammad Al Beloushi captured his first World Cup bikes title to add to a string of Arab motocross championship triumphs.

The third edition of the Dubai International Baja powered by Nissan and AW Rostamani highlights the new direction given to rallying since being launched by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), the national motorsport authority.

ATCUAE President Mohammad Ben Sulayem, the FIA Vice President for Sport, said: “The dunes and plains of the Al Qudra desert create a spectacular, natural platform for international Baja rallying at its best, and with cars, buggies, bikes and quads involved this is an event which has something for everyone. We expect a classic desert rally.”

The 2019 edition will send a powerful line-up of cars, buggies, bikes and quads out onto a demanding 407km special stage running through the dramatic Al Qudra desert terrain on March 8 and again the following morning, ahead of the 12.30pm official finish at Dubai Autodrome.