Abu Dhabi: Victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) marks a highlight in cross-country rallying achievements. A host of the world’s best off-road racers have arrived in the UAE capital determined to conquer the event.
Getting under way on Saturday, the seven-day extravaganza will welcome even more competitors than in 2022, when the Desert Challenge took its place as the second round of the inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship season (W2RC).
More than 150 competitors will take to the deserts of the Al Dhafra region, and the Desert Challenge has some promising talents, 18-year-old UAE resident Alex McInness in the Moto R2 class and 18-year-old Spanish driver Pau Navarro in the T4 class all the way to France’s Claude Fournier competing in the T3.
The ADDC remains one of the most challenging events on the calendar as it continues to build on 32 years of heritage, and now brings one of the most dramatic routes to the FIA and FIM competitors in the W2RC.
Defending W2RC champion Nasser Al Attiyah looks to make it back-to-back driver and constructor titles for himself and Toyota Gazoo Racing this year.
Sebastien Loeb is relishing another titanic battle with Al Attiyah as Bahrain Raid Xtreme look to protect their three-way lead in the World Rally-Raid Championship.
Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in their BRX Prodrive Hunter top the Drivers, Co-Drivers and Manufacturers tables heading into the second round of the championship in the UAE, with Al Attiyah posing the main threat to their triple title ambitions this year.
Demanding and relentless stages
After winning half of the Dakar Rally’s 14 stages in Saudi Arabia, and a record six in a row, they are ready for another big test in the 32nd edition of the Desert Challenge, which offers 2,170 kms of hot, demanding and relentless stages.
“I’m very happy to return to Rally Raid after Dakar where we saw that we had some very good speed, especially in the dunes, so we are leading the championship,” said nine-time World Rally Champion Loeb.
“Of course, it would be great to come out of Abu Dhabi still at the top of the points, but I remember last year that it was not easy as Nasser was very quick. I hope that what we saw on the Dakar means that we will be able to fight with him again.”