World champion trio confirmed for Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev, brilliant Spanish rider Mark Coma and Polish quads star Rafal Sonik, head an entry list of 162 competitors from 36 countries

By Kt Report

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Published: Thu 19 Mar 2015, 1:13 AM

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

Abu Dhabi — As the famed Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge celebrates its 25th year, three reigning world champions have confirmed their participation and headline a stellar field for the event, later this month.

Marc Coma will be seen in action in Abu Dhabi. — Supplied photo

Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev, brilliant Spanish rider Mark Coma and Polish quads star Rafal Sonik, head an entry list of 162 competitors from 36 countries, announced on Tuesday by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the Desert Challenge organisers.

Vasilyev, who scored victory in Abu Dhabi last year on his way to winning the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, returns to defend his title alongside co-driver Konstantin Zhilstov in one of eight X-Raid-entered minis.

They are among 50 car crews going into action in the 25th Desert Challenge, which gets under way with an afternoon Super Special Spectator Stage at Yas Marina Circuit on March 28.

Coma, who secured the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for a sixth time last year and in January registered his fifth Dakar Rally triumph, will be looking to take his KTM to an eighth Desert Challenge success.

Sonik, meanwhile, will be aiming to complete back-to-back Desert Challenge victories to launch his bid for a second successive FIM world quads crown.

“We’re delighted to have a total of 162 drivers, co-drivers, bike and quad riders from around the world for the 25th edition of the Desert Challenge, and the overall quality of entries underlines the status the event enjoys,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed bin Sulayem, the rally founder.

“So many of these competitors return to the UAE year after year, and  there is a great spirit between all of them, with world champions and local private entrants sharing the stage, and supporting and encouraging each other. I’m proud that the rally has developed in this way.”

Taking place under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will be based at Yas Marina Circuit under an agreement between the ATCUAE and Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM).

While the Super Special Stage on Saturday will be a big draw for spectators, the main action takes place over five spectacular desert stages that follow, cutting through the intimidating dunes and Sabkha plains of the Western Region of Al Garbia.



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