Nasser AL-ATTIYA by Edoardo Bauer-1709305768419
Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah has made a massive stride towards his fourth title after winning the Stage 4 of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Friday. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Nasser Al Attiyah regained his lead in Ultimate category after two of the top contenders pulled out of the penultimate round of the 33rd Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Friday.

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While Juan Cruz Yacopini retired, possible podium finisher Guerlain Chicherit had to halt his campaign due to a medical issue with co-driver Alex Winocq.

Stunning drive

Chicherit has been battling with Yazeed Al Rajhi for a place in the top 3, while up ahead Qatari Al Attiyah won the special by an incredible eight minutes and 21 seconds ahead of Al Rajhi. Martin Prokop, who started in 10th position on Friday morning after getting stuck in the dunes with Denis Krotov on Thursday, has been blasting up the field during the Stage 4 presented by Al Futtaim-Toyota, which started in Madinat Zayed and ended in Liwa City after covering a total distance of 457 kilometres, including 308km of specials. The Czech’s stunning drive helped him finish the stage on the podium.

The stage podium is, in fact, a who’s who of recent winners of the rally: Al Attiyah (2008, 2016 and 2021), Al Rajhi (2023) and Prokop (2018).

Ahead of Saturday’s final stage, Al Attiyah has made a massive stride towards his fourth Desert Challenge victory, his first of the season after retiring in Dakar. Title holder Al Rajhi, another non-finisher in Dakar, will be looking for redemption with a podium.

Mansour AL HELEI by Edoardo Bauer-1709305771129
UAE's Mansour Al Helei is back in control of overall standings in the SSV category after a narrow win on Stage 4. Image Credit: Supplied

Highly promising driver

In Seth Quintero’s second race in the Ultimate category, he has proved himself to be highly promising driver. Someone who clearly loves the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after finishing third overall in last year’s edition, the American could well end up on the second step of the podium behind a double world champion in this edition.

In the Challengers, Austin Jones returned to the top, ahead of Cristina Gutierrez and his Can-Am Factory teammate Rokas Baciuska. Laia Sanz, who suffered a broken shock absorber on Stage 3 that damaged her rear differential, recovered well on Friday.

UAE’s Mansour Al Helei (RX-Sport) and Yasir Seaidan (MMP), who started the stage with a slim 18-second margin in favour of the Saudi, treated fans to another cracking special on Friday. Seaidan found himself on the losing side, but managed to limit the damage to a minute and a half. Al Helei is back in control of the overall standings, setting the stage for an interesting duel in the finale between all-time great Yahya Al Helei’s son and the third-placed rider in the last Dakar.

Abdulaziz AHLI by Bastien Roux-1709305773230
Emirati Abdulaziz Ahli has strengthened his chances of winning the Quad title. Image Credit: Supplied

Historic moment awaits HeroMoto

HeroMotosport rider Aaron Mare, standing in for Sebastian Buhler, beat Jean-Loup Lepan into second, with the other Duust Rally rider, Konrad Dąbrowski in third. “I just didn’t take any chances and did everything to keep the bike good for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to the rest of the race. Just one more day, and, hopefully, we can keep the overall lead,” Mare said after the race.

A victory for Mare would be a historic moment for HeroMoto, the first ever Indian team, and if Ross Branch finishes, he’ll be leading the Rally GP classification.

Local hero Abdulaziz Ahli has won again on his quad and the Emirati will most likely win the category. Abdulaziz Ahli said: “Today was also another long stage. It started very easy, mostly straight until maybe 20-30 kilometres before the fuel we started doing the dunes. I started with a slow pace, I just wanted to make it through. Once I reached the fuel, I thought ‘if I’m too slow I’m afraid the car will catch me up and then the track will be little bit hard’. So, after the fuel stop I started pushing. By the last 50 kilometres the tracks were disappearing, and we started entering soft sand. I had one dune that was really hard to get up, I needed five tries and on the fifth try I finally made it. We’re back here now with only one more day to go!”

The final stage of this year’s event, the Abu Dhabi Aviation Stage 5, runs from Mezaira’a to Abu Dhabi and starts at Hameem. The stage is relatively fast with a few challenging dunes and covers a total of 370 kilometres, with 206 kilometres of specials. The dunes make it a true Desert Challenge stage, but the difficulty has been set to a level that will ensure everyone can return to Abu Dhabi for the finish ramp.

Results (Stage 4):


1. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT) 03:12:21

2. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU) + 08:21

3. Martin Prokop (CZE). +09:53


1. Austin Jones (USA) 03:27:19

2. Rokas Baciuška (LIT) +02:02

3. Cristina Gutierrez (SPA) + 03:59


1. Mansour Al Helei (UAE) Time: 03:32:07

2. Yasir Seaidan (Saudi Arabia) Gap: + 01:40

3. Sebastian Guayasamin (USA) Gap: + 11:24


1. Abdulaziz Ahli (UAE) Time: 04:26:41

2. Hani Alnoumesi (Saudi Arabia) Gap: + 01:23:46

Rally GP:

1. Aaron Mare (RA) 03:21:41

2. Ross Branch (BSW) + 07:31


1. Jean-Loup Lepan (FRA) 03:23:45

2. Konrad Dąbrowski (POL) + 03:05

3. Jan Brabec (CZE) + 15:37

Overall results:


1. Nasser Al  Attiyah (QAT) 13.57.32

2. Seth Quintero (USA) +09.21

3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU) +12.07


1. Austin Jones (USA) 14:30:43

2. Rokas Baciuška (LIT) +06:37

3. Hernán Garces (CHI) + 40:10


1. Mansour Al Helei (UAE) 15:03:12

2. Yasir Saeidan (SAU) + 01:22

3. Sebastian Guyasamin (USA) + 28:59


1. Abdulaziz Ahli 17:08:59

2. Hani Alnoumesi + 07:59:54

Rally GP:

1. Aaron Mare (RA) 13:55:15

2. Ross Branch (BSW) + 47:55

Rally 2:

1. Konrad Dąbrowski (POL) 14:05:29

2. Jean Luc Lepan (FRA) +11:51

3. Jan Brabec (CKE) + 01:29:27.