Vasilyev gears up for desert duel

Vasilyev had to battle deep snow and temperatures plummeting to -20C when he began the defence of his World Cup title on home territory recently in the Baja Russia — Northern Forest.

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Published: Wed 18 Mar 2015, 1:48 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:56 PM

Dubai — The extremes of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies vary dramatically during the season, as Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev will testify when he defends his title in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan later this month.

Vladimir Vasilyev drives through the snow in the opening World Cup round in Russia 

Vasilyev had to battle deep snow and temperatures plummeting to -20C when he began the defence of his World Cup title on home territory recently in the Baja Russia — Northern Forest, finishing second in an event won by Finland’s Tapio Suominen.

The conditions contrast sharply with those to be faced in the 25th edition of the Desert Challenge, which sends the world’s best cross country rally drivers and riders on a five-day passage over the giant dunes and sabkha plains of the UAE’s Western Region of Al Garbia.

“The change in extremes of weather and terrain couldn’t be more pronounced,” said Ronan Morgan, who has the distinction this year of being Clerk of the Course for the first two World Cup rounds.

For many years a key member of the team behind the Desert Challenge, Morgan was ‘loaned’ to the Russian event promoters by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE as part of its year-round support for motor sport development worldwide.

“It was a real eye opener for Ronan, and of course Vladimir and the other competitors who took part in Russia and are coming here will face a completely different set of tests,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed bin Sulayem, the Desert Challenge founder.

While the first Desert Challenge featured 30 cars, mostly from the UAE and other Gulf countries, last year’s event attracted 108 drivers and riders from 32 countries, and the 25th anniversary of the event is expected to boost entries to a new level.

Action in the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which also marks the first round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes and quads, gets under way with a super special spectator stage at Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday, March 28.

The cars, bikes and quads then set off on five days of spectacular desert stages centred on the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara which hosts the event’s bivouac, prior to the finish at Yas Marina Circuit on April 2.



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