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Seth Quintero managed to overcome a difficult terrain to clinch Stage 3 and the Overall lead in the Ultimate category of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Sports Council Stage 3 witnessed intense drama during the massive 415-kilometre loop between Hameem and Jereirah, with 251 kilometres of special stages and 52 per cent dunes.

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This meant that competitors were contending with multiple crests that are never easy to read given the sharp light and often-steep angles of approach. The weather was pleasantly fresh following an overnight rain, but that didn’t make anything easier, with unpredictable changes in the texture of the sand, impacting traction and steering without any warning and adding yet another epic struggle for all the contenders.

Thrilling battle

In thrilling battle in the Ultimate category, Seth Quintero clinched the third stage, while his stablemate Lucas Moraes’ run ended in disappointment when his car was destroyed by fire just 100 metres before the finish line. Yazeed Al Rajhi finished the stage second and Guerlain Chicherit completed the podium.

Overnight leader Nasser Al Attiyah, despite losing the clutch, climbed back to the second spot being new overall leader Quintero as the race heads to the home stretch.

Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We are proud to host an elite group of the brightest motorsport stars from all over the world in the Al Dhafra region and its various cities, its charming desert and its golden sand dunes during one of the five rounds of the World Rally-Raid Championship. Once again, Abu Dhabi proves its ability to host major international events. A new chapter of excellence and success awaits.”

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Cristina Guiterrez bounced back into contention after a Stage 1 mechanical drama in the Challenger category. Image Credit: Supplied

Cristina Gutierrez claimed the Challenger stage win, her second triumph in the rally following the Prologue in Al Dhannah. The Spaniard was out of contention for the top spot after mechanical drama in Stage 1 but has bounced back and edged out the Can-Am Factory duo of Rokas Baciuska and Austin Jones.

Jones retained his overall lead with Baciuska and Hernan Garces closely following him. In SSV, a fierce battle rages between Mansour Al Helei (RX-Sport) and Yasir Seaidan (MMP). The Saudi driver clinched his second consecutive stage win on Thursday to move into overall lead for the first time this week by just 18 seconds over Al Helei.

Thursday’s stage certainly wasn’t lacking in excitement for the bikes as Ross Branch (Hero MotoSports) claimed the win ahead of Duust Rally’s Konrad Dąbrowski and Jean-Loup Lepan. Aaron Mare came in fourth at 5’28” and the South African maintained his lead in the classification by over five minutes from the Pole, with the Frenchman 20 minutes back from the Botswanan.

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UAE's Abdulaziz Ahli in action during the Stage 3 on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Mixed terrain in Stage 4

Friday’s Stage 4 presented by Al Futtaim-Toyota starts in Madinat Zayed and ends in Liwa City covering a total of 457 kilometres including 308km of specials. The terrain is mixed, but as usual dunes make-up the majority of the route at 48 per cent of the total distance. Other features include dried-up lake beds for nine per cent of the total distance, known locally as wadis, which can seem flat and predictable, but are difficult to read and as unpredictable as the changing texture of the sand.

Results (Stage 3):


1. Seth Quintero (USA) 03.38.45

2. Yazeed AL Rajhi (SAU) +01.37

3. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA) +05.18


1. Cristina Guierrez (SPA) 03.47.50

2. Rokas Baciuska (LIT) +01.09

3. Hernán Garcés (CHI)+05.11


1. Yasir Saeidan (SAU) 03.33.19

2. Mansour Al Helei (UAE) +03.05

3. Sebastian Guyasamin +5.40


1. Abdulaziz Ahli 04.00.29

2. Kamil Wisniewski +05.50

3. Hani Alnoumesi 01.28.59

Rally GP:

1. Ross Branch (BSW) 03.36.39

2. Aaron Mare (RA) +05.28


1. Konrad Dąbrowski (POL) 03.18.01

2. Jean-Loup Lepan (FRA) + 06.39

3. Jan Brabec +30.50

Overall results:


1. Seth Quintero (USA) 10.44.01

2. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT) +01.10

3. Lucas Moraes (BRA) RETIRED


1. Austin Jones (USA) 11.03.24

2. Rokas Baciuska (LIT) +04.35

3. Hernan Garces (CHI)+26.08


1. Yasir Saeidan (SAU) 11.30.47

2. Mansour Al Helei (UAE) +00.18

3. Sebastian Guyasamin (USA) 17.53


1. Abdulaziz Ahli 12.42.18

2. Hani Alnoumesi 06.36.08

3. Kamil Wisniewski +17.08.49

Rally GP:

1. Aaron Mare (RA) 10.33.34

2. Ross Branch (BSW) +40.24

Rally 2:

1. Konrad Dąbrowski (POL) 10.38.39

2. Jean-Loup Lepan (FRA) + 14.56

3. Jan Brabec (CZE) +01.16.55