Abu Dhabi: The stage is set for another epic chapter of cross country rallying as the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge prepares to mark its 30th anniversary with a powerful send-off in the UAE capital.
The South Grand Stand support pits area at Yas Marina Circuit was alive with activity today as the cars, buggies, bikes and quads readying for the event underwent mechanical scrutineering ahead of a 1,948km passage through the spectacular Al Dhafrah region.
Super special stage
The rally’s first competitive element gets underway at 1.30pm today when the bike and quad riders, including Austria’s new FIM Cross-Country Rallies world champion Matthias Walkner, compete on a 2km Yas Island super special stage.
The ten fastest finishers will choose their starting position for tomorrow’s 262km first desert stage, which begins on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, and takes the rally into the Al Dhafra dunes, finishing at Hameem, a short distance from the rally bivouac.
KTM star Walkner, French Yamaha rider Adrien Van Beveren and Australia’s Gas Gas challenger Daniel Sanders are among those who want to avoid the navigational challenge of being first out tomorrow morning.
By the time top seeded driver Nasser Al Attiyah sets off on the opening stage, the route ahead for the cars will be clearly marked, although navigation remains a critical element from start to finish.
Strict Covid-19 protocol is in place for the penultimate round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars, and the final round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
“We have worked closely with the UAE government, the FIA and the FIM, to develop the Covid-19 protocol, and look forward to a safe and secure 30th edition, and another outstanding test of cross country rallying at its best,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO) and FIA Vice President for Sport.
Fleet of vehicles
As the new official automotive sponsor for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Al-Futtaim Toyota will be supplying a fleet of vehicles to the EMSO for use by officials, marshals, dignitaries, and media representatives.
Dehydration is one of the biggest threats to competitors in extreme motor sport events run in high temperatures, but the EMSO’s partnership with Al Ain Water means the risks will be greatly reduced at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Taking place under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, the rally is supported by the Ruler’s Representative Court Al Dhafra Region, UAE Armed Forces, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, ADNOC Distribution, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi Aviation, National Ambulance, Al-Futtaim Toyota, Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Municipality, Al Dhafra Region Municipality, Al-Ain Water and Tadweer.
7 Nov Stage 1 Ruler’s Representative Court Al Dhafrah Region - 262.02km
8 Nov Stage 2 ADNOC Distribution - 333.43km
9 Nov Stage 3 Abu Dhabi Sports Council - 293.00km
10 Nov Stage 4 Abu Dhabi Aviation - 251.98km
11 Nov Stage 5 Yas Marina Circuit - 162.94km