|Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Capital´s grand Mosque to Backdrop Rally start.|
The 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) will be flagged off after sunset in view of Abu Dhabi’s magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with the event’s entire route providing a destination canvas to Abu Dhabi emirate’s diverse terrain.
"The 100-plus competitors will head off towards the Al Dhafrah plateau ready to tackle the Liwa desert, which is considered to be some of the world’s most stunning desertscapes," said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General Tourism Operations, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which supports the event.
Entry to the 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is open to cars and trucks complying with FIA T1, T2 and T4 technical regulations, as well as motorcyclists and quads running under FIM auspices.
Hussein said that each stage will be divided by passage controls and route waypoints, as competitors thread their way through the legendary Empty Quarter, or Rub Al-Khali, made famous by British explorer Wilfred Thesiger who crossed its desert expanse in the 1940s and 50s. He indicated that many of Abu Dhabi’s landmarks will feature in this year’s route, including the Grand Mosque.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Chairman of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Organising Committee, President of the ATCUAE and FIA Vice President for Sport, confirmed that this year’s route is designed to embrace some new territory in Abu Dhabi and the Western Region, Al Gharbia.
"The Liwa terrain of Abu Dhabi’s Western Region is both gruelling and addictive. We have located some new routes this year, and stages 4 and 5 will take the competitors into areas that will make for great driving and are also good for spectator viewing. Indeed, I have heard many a competitor comment that the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is something to rise to, and then be hooked," said Ben Sulayem, himself a 14-time cross country champion.
Sulayem confirmed that the actual competitive action will get underway with a super special stage (on March 27) to determine the starting order at the Ceremonial Start later in the day in the grounds of the Grand Mosque. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with its 82 domes has fast become a leading landmark in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.
The Grand Mosque covers an area of 22,412 square metres, the size of five football fields and constructed using artisans and materials from countries such as Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, Greece and the UAE. It is reported that chandelier under the main dome is ten metres in diameter and fifteen metres in height and weighs eight-to-nine tonnes. The Grand Mosque is open to visitors.
The sunset start in the ‘shadow’ of the Grand Mosque flags off a non-competitive liaison section that guides the drivers and bikers to the first overnight halt at Moreeb Hill, near Liwa, where the rally will be based for the next four days at a specially-prepared desert bivouac. Moreeb is part of the Empty Quarter, the world's largest uninterrupted sand mass.
Legs two, three and four will feature demanding loop stages around Moreeb Hill, across somewhat challenging gatch tracks, winding desert trails and the region’s notorious towering sand dunes, considered to be the highest dunes in the Empty Quarter.
The fifth and final leg will take place on Thursday, April 1, with teams tackling a desert section between Liwa to the event's finish in Abu Dhabi city.
The six-day competitive section of the cross-country motor sport spectacular, organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), will run from March 27-April 1, 2010. Once again the event will be the season-opening round of both the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
2010/03/08 | 11:43 CET | Editor: MR/HS/PERKINS