An exciting new chapter in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) continues as the World Rally Championship (W2RC) prepares for the second round of its second season.
For the first time in the Desert Challenge, a team was formed to represent the UAE. Team Abu Dhabi assembled a strong Emirati squad as key competitors from every category came together to conquer their homeland.
Sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Team Abu Dhabi has remained true to its mission to create an environment for all segments of the community that reinforces the importance of physical activity and the development of the sporting program.
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, the first Emirati to win the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in 2017, will compete at T1 level. In T4, 2015 ADDC T2 Champion Mansour Al Helei will battle it out on the demanding sand dunes.
Mohammed Al Balooshi is the current FIM Baja World Cup standings leader after winning the opener in Saudi Arabia, out of 30 bikes.
Sultan Al Balooshi completes the Abu Dhabi team’s line-up in the cycling race for Rally 2. Only five quad riders have made it to the W2RC at this year’s Desert Challenge, with Abdulaziz Ahli leading the way and aiming for a hat-trick as he comes out on top in the last two editions of the ADDC.
Another well-known UAE national, Yahya Al-Helei, is competing on his own in a Nissan Pickup T1, and he will go on to break the record, becoming the only driver to compete in every Desert Challenge since its inception in 1991. He is also the father of Mansour Al-Helei, making Al-Heleis one of the most famous Emirati names in the rally world.
Khalid Bin Sulayem, Chairman of EMSO, commented: “Last year marked a very exciting start to the World Rally Championship and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge played a major role in that success. This time around, we hope to bring more UAE to the Championship Part of what’s on offer comes from this exciting Abu Dhabi team. For the 32nd Desert Challenge we’re bringing the car closer to the fans, based in the heart of Abu Dhabi, which means home Audiences will get to get up close and personal with this exciting Emirati talent.”
The rally is hosted by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and organized by the Emirates Motor Sports Organization (EMSO). The race begins with a prologue on Monday and runs until March 3, when competitors will traverse spectacular dune terrain on a 1,311-kilometre special stage.
Thirty FIA Priority Crews plus 25 bike and quad riders will compete in the second round of the World Rally Championship (W2RC). The 55 competitors are seeking victory in the dramatic sand dunes of the Al Dhafra region, with 21 non-championship entrants competing at the FIA level and 33 competing at the FIM level to complete the rich and varied line-up of 109 entrants.
The 32nd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is in partnership with new hosts.
Al Dhannah City came on Sunday as the prologue for all categories, with five-time Dakar champion JP Cottret in charge of the opening. Phase 1 (Al Dhafra District, Court of Representatives of the Rulers) will start without any formalities, as the second longest phase (405 km) will be demanding, starting from the city of Ghiyathi all the way to Tal Mor’eb. Competitors will then pass through Qasr Al Sarab, many of them familiar with the desert and soft sand that make up the next three stages.
The traditional marathon segments for bikes and quads will take place during Phase 2 (ADNOC Distribution) and Phase 3 (Abu Dhabi 360). Stage 4 (Al-Futtaim Toyota) marks 458km, the longest in the rally, as competitors are challenged with steep climbs, deep descents and technical ridge crossings. Stage 5, the Abu Dhabi Airways stage, will head north and put all competitors to the test with a special stage that brings more speed and a flat track, increasing towards the end of the race. plot.
Cars, bikes and quads set off from Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning for the five challenging stages.