Sebastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin compete in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter.
It was another extremely difficult technical stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC), so intense that Nasser Al Attiyah seriously damaged his car and later retired.
On top of that, at the start of Wednesday, 35 percent of the cyclists failed to complete the first three stages, with two dropping out entirely. Under current regulations, stage retirees in a rally GP cannot return the next day, while cars can, but with a time penalty. Of these cars, 25% have so far failed to complete all stages.
Aref Al Awani, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “The match was as exciting and challenging as we had hoped and it confirmed our wider aim of making Abu Dhabi the perfect place to host sporting events. A destination for the world’s best drivers and athletes. With its 32-year history, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) is one of the world’s Development.”
Abu Dhabi 360 Stage 3 starts off with some steep and demanding sand dunes before heading into the open desert and traversing some very challenging ridges. The road is tough up to the refueling point at the Al Fathiyeh crossing, where it heads west into harsher sand dunes, then into open desert and a series of ridge crossings.
FIA President and founder of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who also visited the venue, commented on today’s stage: “The stage is long on the sand dunes in an open field. At 230 kilometers, it is a historic place for all Emiratis. But 230 kilometers here is equivalent to the 7 or 800 kilometers of the old version of the Dakar Rally, simply because of the huge challenge of the terrain and the impact on the machines, drivers, Fatigue caused by drivers and co-pilots, engineers and engineers. The team and the whole organization. Now that we have a new promoter, I am optimistic that ADDC will see real growth in its global profile because after launching it, I Just cling to it and want to see it grow. The FIA has been slow to accept new events in the past, but now we will make it easier for new events to be included in the championship.”
In unusually mild conditions, with temperatures in the mid-20s, T1 class and double stage winner Attiyah reached the finish line with his Toyota Hilux badly damaged and overturned. Attiyah still managed the fastest time of the day and maintained the race lead, but did not speak to the media and left immediately, both driver and co-driver wearing goggles due to the missing windshield.
Sebastian Loeb was able to close the gap to 48 seconds, with non-championship driver Hencratgen third. Yazid Raj.
Khalid Ben Sulayem, Chairman and Board Member of the Emirates Motor Sports Organization (EMSO), commented: “It was an honor to host Mohammad bin Sulayem, President of the FIA and founder of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, at yesterday’s race. I also Thanks to Aref Al Awani and Abu Dhabi Sports Council for forming Team Abu Dhabi with their community support initiative.”
In T3, Mattias Ekstrom failed to complete the opening day stage due to running out of fuel, suffered engine damage in PK66 and was unable to continue his efforts to regain lost time. But it was a good day for the Red Bull Cross Country Junior Team USA who finished in the top three. In T4, local hero Emirati Mansour Al Helei (Abu Dhabi Team) finished second to reigning world champion Rokas Baciuska (Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team), with the Lithuanian winning by 4:53. Pau Navarro (FN Speed) was third.
In the Rally GP, Pablo Quintanilla was back on the winning track until a 2 minute speeding penalty dropped him to second, giving Toby Price the win. Benavidez was eighth today, with Cornejo, Price, Blanche and House all in the top 10 and still in contention for a podium spot. It’s no big surprise that Abdulaziz Ahli still leads Kancius and Guillioli in the quad category.
A real thunderbolt hit W2RC on Wednesday. Loeb, already considered out of title contention in Round 2, could finally make a more aggressive move at ADDC if he survives the next two days. Although he will retire from the top spot in the competition, the Frenchman will continue to collect points every day. Attiyah, the official Toyota Gazoo Racing driver, has retired after the car was badly damaged.
Guerlain Chicheri, who is third in the overall standings, has retired, and the chasing players leading the trio can take advantage of the situation to regain a point. Attia’s lead was so great that his retirement revived the FIA title.