Emirati Mohammad Al Balooshi is among the top-seeded riders in the 26th edition of the Desert Challenge, which is guaranteed to produce a first-time bikes champion.Desert Challenge set for flying start in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Organiser

Dubai: Mohammad Al Baloushi, the UAE’s lone ambassador at the 2019 Dakar Rally, is confident he can carry forward his form from last year.

Al Baloushi, who created history when he became the first Emirati to take part in the Dakar in 2012, ended 32nd in the Bikes category of this gruelling 5,000km route that winds from Lima around the south of Peru before returning to the country’s capital after 14 tough stages.

“In 2018 I enjoyed a lot of success and I’m really grateful for that,” Al Baloushi told the Dakar official website. “I had some ups and downs, but I was really blessed with the Bajas World Cup win and I’m really looking forward to Peru. I enjoy the desert, the beautiful big dunes, I love riding in the sand. It should be a lot of fun, but challenging.

“My number one goal is to finish the rally, number two is to improve on last year’s result and I think I am capable of that. I was fit most of the year but I’ve kept training at 100 per cent, and hopefully that will show at Dakar 2019. I have a responsibility to represent the UAE to the best of my ability, to give a little back to this country which has given us a lot.”