|AD Desert Challenge: Novitskiy/Schulz, Rosso and Coma the big Winners.|
X-Raid did the trick on Thursday, winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge title for a third consecutive year driven by three different pilots since 2008, while Mark Coma overcame some intense fifth and final day challenges to secure his fourth victory in the opening round of the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup and FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
Team X-Raid’s Tina Thorner navigated successfully for Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah in 2008 and Frenchman Guerlian Chechirit in 2009, while Andy Schulz was co-drove for Novitskiy this year. While Novitskiy’s eventual triumph in the cars category was predictable after he took a comfortable lead at the end of the first stage itself, the bikes saw fortunes fluctuating all through the final day today given that only minutes separated the top five.
Laurent Rosso played it safe for the second day running to ensure that his Team Fitech Nissan Patrol crossed the finish line to ensure him a second place, while Emirati Abdul Bari Bin Sugat was pleased with his third place on the podium.
Bin Sugat’s late charge in the Challenge saw him eventually driving past Yannick Comagnac on a final day that could have gone either way, but driver acumen and Nissan endurance ensured the Emirati stood with Novitskiy and Rosso on the podium.
Coma, a seasoned rider who has lost out in many closes finishes, however, kept his nerves in fair knowledge that needed to just keep the eight-minute lead he began with on the final stage.
Francisco Lopez languishing at number 40 in the standings after yesterday’s penultimate stageafter he incurred heavy penalties, proved his mettle by finishing ahead of all category pack leaders. The consolation first place finish on the final stage also saw Lopez climb up the rankings in the final standings.
James West flew through the last stage in a bid to stay in contention for a podium finish, and ‘lady luck’ rode with him for company. West, sitting at third overall after yesterday’s stage, finished second overall thanks to mechanical issues with Sean Gaugan’s Honda which resulted in him giving up the two-minute lead that had seen him riding in second overall until the start of the final stage this morning.
Gaugain’s Honda failed to carry him to victory in the 450 category too, with mechanical issues at passage control 2 (PC2) forcing him to surrender the ten-minute lead he had meticulously accumulated over the last four days to David Casteu.
Obaid Echtibi finished on top in the Quads category, largely because pack leader for the previous four days Sebastian Husseini was unable to capitalize on this one-hour plus lead that could have eventually seen him through.
On day five, however, Husseini was out to prove a point, and finished the final leg ahead of his category rivals while Echtibi was comfortable in shadowing his former leader knowing that only serious mechanical problems with his Honda could deny him crowning glory.
Local radio presenter Vicky White and Colin Mercer, both riding a Suzuki LTR 450, worked in tandem throughout the five days to eventually finish in the top three in the quads category.
White’s achievement is commendable for the fact that she was a late entrant following Suzuki’s offer to provide her with a quad, which however meant she had no time for practice.
Final positions after Leg 5 - Cars
01) Leonid Novitskiy / Andy Schulz I 21:32:27
02) Laurent Rosso / Francois Borsotto I 26:43:03
03) Abdul Bari-Bin Sugat / Ali Mirza I 34:40:00
Final positions after Leg 5 - Bikes
01) Marc Coma I 20:26:09
02) James West I 20:47:48
03) David Casteau I 20:57:05
2010/04/01 | 20:18 CET | ARTICLE: MR/ACT UAE