Dubai: After the Friday evening prologue, the Dubai International Baja resumed on Saturday as the star-studded lineup headed to the desert for the first of two days of demanding dune rallying.
The Al Futtaim Leg 1 of the Dubai International Baja covered a total of 337km, with 166km of a very technical Special Stage to challenge the crews.
The motorcycles were first in action with Mohammed Al Balooshi giving the home fans plenty to cheer about as he blasted through the day to win the stage and take the overall lead into day three while among the cars Nasser Al Attiyah fended off the challenge of rising star Seth Quintero.
Al Balooshi rode his Yamaha YZF450 to a 1m50.4s advantage over Kuwaiti Abdullah Alshatti with Sultan Balooshi making it two local riders in the top three with third fastest time.
Series leader David Megre of Portugal had a challenging day, finishing seventh and will start the final day of FIM Bajas World Cup more than eight minutes down on nearest championship challenger Al Balooshi.
Speaking after a very satisfying day Mohammed Al Balooshi said: “We can’t be more happy by finishing first today. One more day to go. Namoos (victory)!”
Making it a great day for UAE riders, Abdul Aziz Ahli won Leg 1 among the Quads, more than 11 minutes ahead of series leader Kevin Giroud with Haitham Altuwaijiri — locked on points with Giroud at the start — more than 13 minutes behind his title rival in third.
The car battle has gone to form so far with 18-timesMiddle East Rally Champion Nasser Al Attiyah finishing the day 58.8 seconds ahead of his replacement in the Toyota Overdrive team, Seth Quintero.
Third, some five and half minutes in arrears, was Quintero’s teammate, 2021 Dubai International Baja winner Yazeed Al Rajhi.
FIA World Cup Baja champion elect Al Attiyah was understandably satisfied with his first day of action in the desert but mindful that his advantage over Quintero remains a narrow one.
Al Attiyah said: “It was a good day for us and we are so happy to have a good lead form everybody,” he said.
“We’ve learned a lot about the new Prodrive Hunter car. It’s a good day and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Today’s final day of action, Leg 2, covers 337km with 169km of timed special stages before the competitors return to Dubai Festival City for the victory ceremony.
Leg 1 – Special Stage Al-Futtaim Toyota
1. Nasser Al Attiyah – Mathieu Baumel (Prodrive Hunter) 2h45m10.6s
2. Seth Quintero – Deniz Zenz (Toyota Hilux) 2h46m09.4s
3. Yazeed Al Rajhi – Timo Gottschalk (Toyota Hilux) 2h50m40.8s
1. Otavio Sousa Leite – Joao Ferreira (Can Am Maverick) 3h05m27.3s
2. Bradley Salazar – Marco Guerron (Can Am Maverick) 3h10m30.8s
3. Cristiano De Sousa Batista– Fausto De Almeida De Mota (Can Am Maverick) 3h13m05.1s
1. Joao Ferreira – Felipe Palmeiro (Can Am Maverick) 2h55m11.8s
2. Amerigo Ventura Montecamozzo – Mirko Brun (Yamaha YXZ1000R) 3h20m04.1s
3. Stefano Marrini – Silvio Valentini (Can Am Maverick) 3h34m03.5s
1. Mohammed Al Balooshi (Yamaha YZF 450cc) 2h56m05.1s
2. Abdullah Alshatti (Kawasaki KZ 450cc) 2h57m55.5s
3. Sultan Balooshi (Yamaha YZF 450cc) 2h59m30.8s
1. Abdulaziz Ahli (Yamaha YFZ 450cc) 3h20m51.2s
2. Kevin Giroud (Yamaha Raptor 700cc) 3h32m04.4s
3. Haytham Altuwaijiri (Yamaha Raptor 700cc) 21h17m06.4s.