Russian Boris Gadasin and Jacek Czachor from Poland set the early pace in the car and bike categories respectively at today’s Super Special Stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The 103 competitors from 35 nations were flagged off by Sheikh Sultan Bin Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, from the Court of the Ruler’s Representative of the Western Region, and Mohammed Ben Sulayem, founder of the Desert Challenge and president of rally organisers the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE).
The big guns laid down the gauntlet to any challengers in the car category, with Russian driver Boris Gadasin of G-Force Motorsport claiming first place, ahead of famous celebrated Emirati racer Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei in his MINI All4 Racing and fellow driver Ilya Kusnetsov from Team X-Raid. Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser, who finished third in the Desert Challenge last year, came in fourth in his Sonagol Schlesser buggy.
The bike category of the 2012 Desert Challenge is set to be the most competitive in the event’s history, with international stars including current world champion Helder Rodrigues, current Desert Challenge champion Marc Coma and Ruben Faria all in action. But the Super Special Stage belonged to some of the less well known names with Polish riders Jacek Czachor and Marek Dabrowski from Team Orlen finishing 1st and 2nd, ahead of young Italian Manuel Lucchese.
“It was great to see so many people at the Super Special Stage, both spectators and media, and there was a really friendly atmosphere down there,” said Lucchese. “It’s held in an amazing location, and the track was great fun to ride – it was in top condition and you could really drift into the turns.”
Reigning quad champion and UAE resident, Nicholas Black and his Yamaha Raptor ended the Super Special Stage in second place in the category, just behind Sebastin Husseini, also from the Emirates. Female rider, Andrea Mayer from Germany, who has previously tackled the Desert Challenge in both car and bike categories, celebrated her hat-trick of category entries by coming in third.
For the second successive year, the Super Special Stage took place on a specially-designed track located next to the capital’s Marina Mall and a short distance from the world-renowned Emirates Palace hotel. The time trial gave the large crowds of spectators who had gathered despite it being a weekday, the unique opportunity of seeing the action and participants up close, all against the magnificent backdrop of the city of Abu Dhabi.
“The venue for the Super Special Stage is truly spectacular, and we are extremely grateful for the assistance of Abu Dhabi Municipality in making this event such a success,” said Ben Sulayem. “It is great to see so many competitors from around the world in action after all the preparations, and everyone is now raring to head into the desert and take on one of the world’s most demanding races.”
Speaking at the Super Special Stage, Sultan Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Deputy Under-secretary for the Court of the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, said: “The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is a very important sporting event that has a positive impact on the economy and tourism in the United Arabi Emirates, Abu Dhabi and the Western Region.”