|Abu Dhabi DC: Spectators to get up-close to Desert Challenge stars Saturday.|
The 2011 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge gets underway on Saturday, with organisers revealing an upgraded rally route format that includes all 120 entrants taking part in a fan-friendly, opening Super Special Stage (SSS) in the heart of Abu Dhabi city.
Motorsport fans will be able to get right up alongside the stars at this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, one of the world’s toughest sporting events. And this year Middle East rallying legend, Mohammed Ben Sulayem will officially launch the race by arriving at the specifically designed course next to the capital’s Marina Mall in one of his own rally cars.
In an event that is unique to off-road rallying, spectators will not only get amazing views of the action, but will be able to get up-close to the carefully prepared vehicles and meet a truly international line-up of drivers and riders from over 30 countries.
Among the stars present will be Leonid Novitskiy from Russia and Marc Coma (Spain), the reigning car and bike world cross-country rally champions respectively, as well as rally hero Stéphane Peterhansel (France) and the awesome KAMAZ-Master truck team (Russia). The crowds will be able to see all of them tussle for urban honours before heading to the Western Region, where the majority of the week-long event’s 1,570 competitive kilometres will be run.
"The Super Special Stage is a great event for the whole family. It gives spectators the chance to see some of the toughest machinery on the planet and understand the people who take on such a demanding challenge," said Ben Sulayem, who is also Vice-president of the FIA and president of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, organisers of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
"We are particularly grateful to Abu Dhabi Municipality, whose assistance in bringing this stage to Marina Mall will give people the chance to witness first-hand an event that is not, by its nature, always easy to see."
Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to view this exciting precursor to one of the world’s most spectacular cross-country rallies, the Super Special Stage, which will be held on a specially-made circuit outside Marina Mall, is a free-to-attend event that starts at 3pm. The competitors will launch their quest for success on the starting ramp, which is set against the spectacular backdrop of the city of Abu Dhabi, before embarking on the timed, two-kilometre off-road course between Marina Mall and the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.
The time trial will be broadcast live on Abu Dhabi TV and not only gives spectators a taste of the week ahead, but also establishes the starting order for Stage 1 of the rally, which takes place Sunday morning and sees the racers head off into the stunning desert scenery of Abu Dhabi’s Western Region of Al Gharbia.
As the season opener for the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship and round two of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has attracted many of the top rally drivers and riders from across the globe. Finishing on 7 April, it consists of four categories: bikes, quads, cars and trucks.
At the 21st edition of the rally, the mystic silence of the rolling dunes and picturesque vistas of Abu Dhabi’s Western Region will once again be broken by the bellowing roar of horsepower, as some 120 desert-going vehicles battle it out for top honours. In a first for the rally, this year’s desert base will be located adjacent to the luxurious outpost of the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.
2011/04/02 | 18:53 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/REDDING