Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge reaches 30-year milestone

Scrutineering under way at Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. (Supplied photo)
Scrutineering under way at Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. (Supplied photo)

Strict Covid-19 protocol is in place for the event

By Team KT

Published: Fri 5 Nov 2021, 6:58 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 Nov 2021, 7:15 PM

The stage is set for another epic chapter of cross country rallying as the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge prepares to mark its 30th anniversary with a powerful send-off in the UAE capital.

The South Grand Stand support pits area at Yas Marina Circuit was alive with activity as the cars, buggies, bikes and quads readying for the event underwent mechanical scrutineering ahead of a 1,948km passage through the spectacular Al Dhafrah region.

The rally’s first competitive element gets underway at 1.30pm on Saturday when the bike and quad riders, including Austria’s new FIM Cross-Country Rallies world champion Matthias Walkner, compete on a 2km Yas Island super special stage.

The ten fastest finishers will choose their starting position for the following day’s 262km first desert stage, which begins on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, and takes the rally into the Al Dhafra dunes, finishing at Hameem, a short distance from the rally bivouac.

KTM star Walkner, French Yamaha rider Adrien Van Beveren and Australia’s Gas Gas challenger Daniel Sanders are among those who want to avoid the navigational challenge of being first out on Sunday morning.

By the time top seeded driver Nasser Al Attiyah sets off on the opening stage, the route ahead for the cars will be clearly marked, although navigation remains a critical element from start to finish.

Strict Covid-19 protocol is in place for the penultimate round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars, and the final round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.

“We have worked closely with the UAE government, the FIA and the FIM, to develop the Covid-19 protocol, and look forward to a safe and secure 30th edition, and another outstanding test of cross country rallying at its best,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO) and FIA Vice President for Sport.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge rally schedule

6 Nov: Super Stage Yas Island - 2km

7 Nov: Stage 1 Ruler's Representative Court Al Dhafrah Region - 262.02km

8 Nov: Stage 2 ADNOC Distribution - 333.43km

9 Nov: Stage 3 Abu Dhabi Sports Council - 293.00km

10 Nov: Stage 4 Abu Dhabi Aviation - 251.98km

11 Nov: Stage 5 Yas Marina Circuit - 162.94km

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