Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi produced a storming second leg fightback to grab victory in the Abu Dhabi Baja on Saturday while South African rider Aaron Mare scored a convincing win in the bike category.
Partnered by British co-driver Chris Patterson in the Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 2008 Dakar, Al Qasimi won the 105-km Moreeb Special Stage 2, wiping out a first leg lead of almost six minutes by Saleh Al Saif in a CAN AM X3 to beat the Saudi driver by 1 mins 42 secs.
Andreas Borgmann took third placed and Dutchman Kees Koolen finished fourth, both also driving CAN AMs, with the UAE’s Khaled Al Jafla in a Dunebike Armada and T2 winner Mohammad Al Naasani at the wheel of a Nissan Patrol rounding off the top six. Ahmed Barakat in a Nissan Patrol topped Group S.
Overnight leader Mare, riding his official Honda team training bike for next year’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, was fourth fastest on the 105-km Moreeb Special Stage 2 but recorded an overall Motos victory by 1 min 44 secs from Kuwait’s Mohammad Jaffar on a KTM.
Top UAE rider Mohammad Balooshi set the fastest time on Saturday’s stage to finish third overall, with veteran Dubai-based rider Dave McBride, Emirati Sultan Al Baloushi on a Kawazaki and Kuwait’s Abdullah Al Shatti on a KTM completing the top six.
Al Qasimi reached the finish at the renowned Moreeb Dune to say: “I had a better feel today and was able to push a little more so we had good momentum. We lost some time when came up behind one of the bikes in the dunes, got stuck and had to deflate the tyres. But it was fantastic to be in Liwa again and I enjoyed the rally very much.”
Saleh, who won the UTV auto class for four-wheel side-by-side vehicles, said at the end of the leg: “That was a really good day, a nice stage and I’m very happy with my result.”
Overall results (Autos)
1. Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi / Chris Patterson (UAE/UK) / Peugeot 2008 DKR 3:26.13
2. Saleh Al Saif (KSA) / CAN AM X3 / T 3:27.55
3. Andreas Borgmann (UAE) / CAN AM Maverick X3 / T 3:42.00
4. Kees Koolen / Jurges Van Den Goorbergh (NL / NL) / CAN AM Maverick X3 / T 4:01.56
5. Khaled Al Jafla (UAE) / Dunebike / Armada 4:55.32
Provisional overall — Motos
1. Aaron Mare (UAE) / Honda 450 Rally 1:15.06
2. Mohammad Jaffar (KWT) / KTM 450 SX-F 1:16.59
3. Mohammad Baloushi (UAE) / KTM Rally Moto 450 1:19.56
4. Rashed Abdulla (UAE) / KTM 250 SX 1:21.08
5. David McBride (UAE) / KTM 450 SX-F 1:23.12