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Baja Poland: X-raid with four Mini All4 Racing - chase for World Cup continues. | 26.08.2014


Baja Poland: Overdrive Racing with five Toyota Hilux and Nasser Al Attiyah. | 26.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Mitsubishi´s Spinelli / Haddad the new leader in the cars. | 26.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Gonçalves wins SS2 in Bikes but Coma still overall leader. | 26.08.2014


Rallyraid: Kamaz Master legend Ilgizar Mardeev tragically died in an accident. | 26.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Honda´s Paulo Goncalves wins second stage in the bikes. | 26.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Second victory of Overdrive´s Varela/Gugelmin in stage 01. | 25.08.2014













































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Abu Dhabi DC: Schlesser and Coma retain top positions ahead of final stage.






After four days of intense competition, both against the desert and each other, the remaining competitors in this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge are tantalisingly close to the finish line.

Jean-Louis Schlesser, Marc Coma and Obaid Al Kitbe from the UAE will all be dreaming of victory as they sit in top place in the car, bike and quad categories respectively with just 287 kilometres to go.

The toughest stage of the rally, today’s 317 kilometre leg pushed the rally’s remaining competitors and their vehicles to the max ahead of Friday’s departure from the beautiful Western Region of Al Gharbia and on to the finish line at Al Dafrah. This penultimate leg is appropriately named after Nissan, a long-term supporter of the rally, whose flagship Patrol SUV is the race’s official car.

Driving the Team X-Raid Mini All4, Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei has enjoyed an impressive return to racing in the UAE, but got stuck in sand towards the end of today’s stage, seriously damaging his chances of a remarkable comeback win. The result nevertheless extended his lead over third place Patrick Sireyjol from France.

This left veteran racer Jean-Louis Schlesser looking odds-on to record a remarkable sixth Desert Challenge win, his first since 2003. The Frenchman enjoyed a good day behind the wheel of his Sonangol Buggy, finishing over 21 minutes ahead of Al-Mutaiwei to open up a 38:03 mins lead over the Emirati.

Reinforcing the extreme nature of the competition, and the incredible demands it places on competitors and their vehicles alike, only around 60% of the cars that started remain in the rally. Of these, six are piloted by Emiratis, and a seventh by Ibrahim Al Muhanna from Saudi Arabia.

Current FIM World Champion, Helder Rodrigues claimed his first stage win of the rally, ahead of current Desert Challenge champion, Marc Coma, who finished 15:26 mins behind in eleventh. But it wasn’t enough to change the overall lead, which Coma retained, albeit by a reduced margin.

Ahead of tomorrow’s final stage, the Spaniard is 6:34 mins ahead of fellow countryman Joan Barreda-Bort, and 8:25 mins ahead of Portuguese rider, Paulo Goncalves in third. Sean Gaugain of the Gecko Team is the highest placed UAE rider, in seventh place overall, while Emirati Mohammed Balooshi is 13th.

Today was a long day, with a long track. We opened the track for the others, so we lost some time, but it’s still ok," said Coma. "Tomorrow is another long stage where you could lose a lot of time, but equally where you could gain it, so overall we’re in pretty good shape."

A bad day for UAE resident Sebastian Husseini, who broke his quad’s suspension, meant it was a particularly good one for Emirati Obaid Al Kitbe in the quad bike category. Al Kitbe’s stage win, combined with Husseini’s misfortune, means that the Umm Al Quwain resident now holds a lead of more than 1h 50m over his new closest challenger Lukasz Laskawiec from Poland

Ahead of what he hopes will be a triumphant return to Yas Marina tomorrow, Obaid commented: "I kept my energy for tomorrow. One of my tyres was flat but I made it back. I’m hoping for a good race tomorrow, hoping to keep my lead, and hoping to finish the race in front, which is the dream of all racers."

With Husseini dropping down to eighth, behind Atif Al Zaroni, Camelia Liparoti jumped into third position, and will be looking to follow up on her impressive second place last year with a second successive podium position. Currently sitting in fifth position, another female entrant, Andrea Mayer from Germany, will also be holding hopes for a top three finish.

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge carries a particular emotional appeal for the many Emiratis who enter each year. The chance to compete in their homeland, against the world’s top riders and drivers is an unmissable opportunity for any serious racer. And the sand dunes that cover the majority of the 1,520 kilometres of competitive stages act as a great leveller, offering the local stars the chance of toppling the big names.

One such racer is Yahya Bel Helei, who has competed in every single Desert Challenge since it was founded 22 years ago. Having finished fourth last year, Bel Helei is currently in fifth place and still holds out hopes of claiming a top three position with co-driver Khalid Al Kendi in their Nissan Patrol.

"I think I have done very well up until now, especially considering I am competing against world class drivers, who are racing in cars built specifically for this desert terrain," he said. "The Liwa desert is a very difficult place to race, and only competitors who have taken part in the Desert Challenge can fully understand this. As we head into the final day, I am very pleased to be leading the T2 category and in fourth place overall."

Nabil Al Shamsi and co-driver Salem Rashed have also enjoyed some success this year, although day four was marred by a broken driveshaft, leaving them out of the running for a podium position. "I will be working hard to fix the problem with my team and am looking forward to starting again tomorrow. The great thing about the Desert Challenge is that every day is a new race," said Al Shamsi.

"This is the biggest rally in the Middle East," he added. "I’m really happy to welcome so many top international competitors to the UAE and it’s a great feeling when you pass champions from other countries, but my competition is really against the desert itself, not other drivers."

Renowned as being one of the world’s most difficult, technically demanding endurance rallies, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge attracts the best racers from across the globe, determined to conquer the towering sand dunes and extreme heat of the Western Region.

2012/04/06 | 19:08 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/DRINKWATER/AZIZ











Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team crews SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 19:14 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment rally video of SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 18:57 | NEW




Baja Poland: X-raid with four Mini All4 Racing - chase for World Cup continues. | 26.08.2014 17:21 | NEW




Baja Poland: Overdrive Racing with five Toyota Hilux and Nasser Al Attiyah. | 26.08.2014 16:45 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Mitsubishi´s Spinelli / Haddad the new leader in the cars. | 26.08.2014 05:17 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Gonçalves wins SS2 in Bikes but Coma still overall leader. | 26.08.2014 05:02 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões PHOTOS: Nice impressions from the first days in Brazil (79) | 26.08.2014 04:53 | NEW




Baja Poland VIDEO: Official trailer of the Baja Poland FIA CC World Cup 2014 | 26.08.2014 04:32 | NEW




Donaldson CC: Test of character for the teams at South African Vryburg 450 | 26.08.2014 03:49 | NEW




Rallyraid: Kamaz Master legend Ilgizar Mardeev tragically died in an accident. | 26.08.2014 03:09 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 02:30 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 01:59 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Driving onboard with Overdrive Toyota Hilux of Verala | 26.08.2014 01:46 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Honda´s Paulo Goncalves wins second stage in the bikes. | 26.08.2014 01:28 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment video of SS01 Sunday (crash) | 26.08.2014 00:56 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Equipe Mitsubishi Petrobras crews in the first stage | 26.08.2014 00:53 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Second victory of Overdrive´s Varela/Gugelmin in stage 01. | 25.08.2014 20:01 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall & daily CARS & TRUCKS SS01 on Sunday | 25.08.2014 00:04 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall & daily BIKES & QUADS SS01 on Sunday | 24.08.2014 23:32 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: HRC´s Rodrigues "Think that has been a good day for us". | 24.08.2014 22:57 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Marc Coma wins SS01 in front of Rodrigues and Goncalves. | 24.08.2014 21:43 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Onboard NWM Ford Ranger X-Rally Team prologue | 24.08.2014 21:32 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Goncalves, Azevedo and Coma fastest in bikes Saturday | 24.08.2014 21:27 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment video of the prologue Saturday | 24.08.2014 20:57 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team in the prologue Saturday | 24.08.2014 20:54 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Varela, Baumgart and Spinelli fastest cars in the prologue. | 24.08.2014 20:29 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Team Facco meeting rolled Cestari in the prologue | 23.08.2014 21:33 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall & daily CARS TRUCKS Prologue Saturday | 23.08.2014 21:16 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall & daily BIKES & QUADS Prologue Saturday | 23.08.2014 20:41 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: HRC Honda Paulo Goncalves fastest in the bikes prologue. | 23.08.2014 20:22 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Rally started with Press Conference - Prologue on Saturday. | 23.08.2014 18:03 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Equipe Mitsubishi Petrobras - test Mitsubishi ASX | 22.08.2014 21:18 |




Rally dos Sertões: Team HRC back in action for the thrills of the Dos Sertoes | 22.08.2014 20:59 |




Verva Street Racing VIDEO: Official trailer for the unique Warsaw sport-event | 21.08.2014 20:41 |




Verva Street Racing: Carlos Sainz and Peugeot 2008 DKR premiere in Warsaw. | 21.08.2014 20:25 |




Rallyraid: The new Schlesser customer racer - 4x4 Mercedes instead of buggy. | 21.08.2014 18:32 |




Rally dos Sertões: Top brands and great beasts in bikes, quads and UTVs. | 21.08.2014 18:01 |




Carpathian Buggy Challenge: First Buggy-Challenge in Romanian mountains | 21.08.2014 17:33 |




TORC STC 2014: Crandon welcomes Popcorn Sutton´s Sportsman Challenge | 21.08.2014 16:57 |




TORC STC 2014: Fannin Motorsports suffers first ever DNF at RD8 in Crandon | 21.08.2014 16:20 |




















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