|AD Desert Challenge: Novitskiy/Schulz lonely leading in Abu Dhabi.|
Team X-Raid’s Leonid Novitskiy extended his overall lead for a second day in the Auto category of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge gaining a wide margin over his nearest rival Laurent Rosso on Monday (March 29 2010). Meanwhile, the Moto category remains unchanged with Marc Coma and Francesco Lopez at the top of the times.
The 305km stage threw in another bout of hot heavy weather and mixed fortunes. Pack leaders on two wheels were swapping places with every passing passage control serving as a reminder of the world-class riders pitted against each other in the 20th anniversary edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the season opening round of the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup and FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
Novitskiy, who is out to retain the title for Team X-Raid following a spectacular performance from Guerlian Chicherit in 2009, continued to extend his lead as his nearest competitors pushed their cars in a see-saw battle to gain control of second place.
With Novitskiy flying through the various passage controls, Mark Powell, Laurent Rosso, Abdulla Al Heiraz and Abdulbari Bin Sougat began swapping places in a contest that matched the rising temperatures around the Tal Moreeb area. Just after the first service stage Al Heraiz experienced a gearbox problem that pulled him from the day.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s hot tip Yahya Al Helei and his co-driver protégé and son, Mansour, climbed several places in a late surge but missed the service area and continued back to the Bivouac by road.
Spain’s Coma retained the lead on his factory KTM 690 R. South African Gaugain who finished seventh on the first day, stormed through the first three stages to finish the day third overall on his Honda CRF 450X. Meanwhile, Gaugain’s rival Briton James West had a disappointing day on his is KTM 690 to end the day in fourth overall, despite regular over-heating issues throughout the day.
The Open Class category saw Coma remain top of the table with West falling further behind on time but holding on to second place. Meanwhile, KTM UAE ADCB Racing Team owner Tim Trenker sits in third place.
In the Quad category, Sebastain Husseini and Obaid Echtibi rode their machines to the limit making for a fine contest between Suzuki and Honda. The competitive duo look set to get ever closer when special stage three commences (Tuesday). The biggest rise of the day saw Poland’s Sonik Rafal move up 21 places from his overnight finish to pose a serious challenge for the overall third place. Emirati Mohammed Al Shamsi spent a second disappointing day struggling with technical issues.
Radio presenter-cum-quad rider Vicky White shadowed Colin Mercer to hold on to fourth place throughout the day. Meanwhile, Gecko Team Honda’s Dave McBride was forced to retire for a second day running following overnight mechanical work, this time with his CRF 450 experiencing fresh gear box problems.
Lithuanian co-driver Sailius Jurgelenas recovers well from a back injury after particularly heavy landing off a dune just 85 kms into leg one that pulled him and driver, Benedktas Vanagas out of the race.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has traditionally attracted a host of partners, and in 2010 including Nissan, ADNOC, Al Ain Water, Crowne Plaza Yas Island, Explorer, FedEx, Tag Heuer and Thuraya. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is the title sponsor of the event.
01) Leonid Novitskiy / Andy Schulz I 04:41:57
02) Laurent Rosso / Francois Borsotto I 05:26:58
03) Mark Powell / Paul Richards I 05:28:48
01) Marc Coma I 07:51:09
02) Francisco Lopez I 07:54:12
03) Sean Gaugain I 07:55:34
2010/03/29 | 23:47 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/ACT UAE