|Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Overdrive with 5 Toyota Hilux - new customers.|
Fresh from taking a stunning victory in the "Italian Baja", Overdrive Racing has entered five Toyota Hilux in the forthcoming "Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge", round two of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which takes place across the deserts of the United Arab Emirates on April 6-11.
Two of the five crews represented the Belgium-based team in January’s Dakar Rally, one driver finished fifth with the team in Morocco last season and two partnerships are new to both the Toyota team and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The Argentinean duo of Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue will wheel out the Hilux that Giniel de Villiers guided to a superb second overall in the Dakar Rally. The South American pair finished second overall themselves with Overdrive at last year’s "Sealine Cross-Country Rally" in Qatar and went on to take 10th position on the Dakar. Thanks to support from Toyota Motorsport South Africa for the use of the Hilux, the Argentineans will be targeting an outright win next week in the UAE.
The Venezuelan duo of Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Meneses finished 20th overall in the Dakar after losing four positions on the final day and they are entered with support from Venezuelan Tourism, the Ministry of Sport and PDVSA. Coffaro is tackling a full programme of FIA World Cup events in 2013.
The Russian pairing of Leonid Ogorodnikov and Anton Nikolaev represented Overdrive Racing in last autumn’s Rally of Morocco and finished fifth overall. They will be competing in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for the first time and make their first appearance with the team this season.
Fellow Russians, Vladimir Sherman and Sergey Lebedev, will also be experiencing the UAE desert event for the first time and will be experiencing Overdrive Racing Hilux for the first time after previously competing with Overdrive.
Poland’s Martin Kaczmarski and Bartlomiej Boba complete the five-car line-up in their Lotto Team Hilux. Kaczmarski is rated as a new talent to watch from Poland and is relishing his first experience of the punishing UAE desert where mid-afternoon April temperatures can soar into the upper forties Centigrade and can sap power and energy from both man and machine.
“After such a great start in Italy, we are hoping to carry our momentum into the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. One thing, for sure, is that this race will be much more of a challenge for the team with the heat and the dunes taking their daily toll. That being said, I think we have a strong line-up. I am hoping that Lucio can fight for the victory and that all of our Hiluxes come home,” said Overdrive team manager Jean-Marc Fortin.
Overdrive has received extensive support from Al-Futtaim Auto Centres during the preparations for the event. The team has been putting the final touches to the Hiluxes that were airfreighted into Dubai from Europe and South Africa, before moving to Abu Dhabi.
“For our mechanics, who have put such a lot of effort into the preparations for the event, it is great to have the support of Al-Futtaim Auto Centres in having a great environment to work in. It makes life a lot easier,” added Fortin.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – formerly known as the UAE Desert Challenge – was the brainchild of former rally driver and FIA vice-president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and joined the FIA World Cup for the first time in 1993. Since then, it has become renowned as probably the toughest of the events in the championship calendar.
This year’s timetable gets underway with documentation and the pre-event press conference at the Yas Marina race circuit in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (April 4th). Teams then attend compulsory scrutineering on Friday, April 5thand Saturday’s opening timed super special stage precedes five further days of action in the remote UAE deserts.
The opening 298.80 km special guides crews from the start and on to the bivouac at Qasr Al-Sarab. Monday’s second selective section of 250.43km meanders its way through the tricky dunes of the Rub Al-Khali or Empty Quarter, as do the third and fourth selectives of 284.98 km and 266.07 km on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The fifth and final 296.30 km selective section leaves Qasr Al-Sarab and finishes at Al-Dafra before teams return to the Yas Marina Circuit for the finish podium on Thursday afternoon.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge time schedule
04th April: Documentation & press conference in Abu Dhabi
05th April: Scrutineering in Abu Dhabi
06th April: Super Special Stage in Abu Dhabi
07th April: 1st stage (Yas Marina Circuit – Liwa)
08th April: 2nd stage (Liwa)
09th April: 3rd stage (Liwa)
10th April: 4th stage (Liwa)
11th April: 5th stage (Liwa – Yas Marina Circuit)
2013/04/03 | 12:23 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS