Dubai: Mohammad Al Balooshi, FIM Bajas World Cup Winner and UAE multiple motocross champion, claimed his first victory on African soil when he clinched the second edition of the Rally de Mauritania.

“I couldn’t be happier with the results. The race was amazing, very well organised and I feel grateful for having the opportunity to share these days with so many talented African riders. All went very well for me, and I’m very happy to go home with a win,” Al Balooshi said after two days of gruelling racing through the soft and golden sands of the Sahara Desert.

His participation as the most awarded Arab off-road rider, and newly crowned FIM World Bajas reigning champion, was aimed to raise awareness about the sport across the Arab world and to increase competitiveness and engagement among the local riders competing in the North West African region.

The rally line-up included a large number of riders from African countries such as Angola, Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia and the host country Mauritania, of course, with Al Balooshi being the sole representative of the UAE at the meeting. “I appreciate the support from Mohammad Bin Sulayem, president of the ATCUAE to achieve this milestone,” said Al Balooshi.

With a line-up of specialised and experienced desert riders such as the ones participating at Mauritania International Baja, the pride of raising his country’s flag made the Emirati emotional. “I am honoured to dedicate this victory to Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, whose words of encouragement and support when he received us last week, truly inspired me. I am proud as ever of raising the UAE flag on this podium,” added Al Balooshi after the closing ceremony in Nouakchott.

The Mauritanian International Baja was held on the outskirts of Nouakchott -one of the largest cities in the Sahara, concentrating 30 per cent of the country’s 4.5 million population- and ran across the Sahara Desert in a compact format of two days’ racing.