Final stage proves that nothing is decided until the last stretch of open desert
Yesterday’s stage of the 32nd edition of The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, started with weather drama in the form of fog, which delayed the start by two hours. After the stage, the stewards declared that an infraction by Red Bull Can-Am Factory’s Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, whose car was fitted with an illegally wide air restrictor, meant that she incurred a time penalty of 24 hours per stage, while South Racing Can-Am’s Dania Akeel also had an illegal restrictor fitted and was disqualified from the event. At the end of the final stage,
In T1, Yazeed Al Rajhi started the final stage 10'27" ahead of Martin Prokop in the overall standings, and went on to win the overall race, bringing Toyota its third crown here after wins in 2016 and 2021. Adrien Van Beveren dominated the later stages of the race to take the RallyGP category win, his second since joining Honda, despite only taking fifth place in Abu Dhabi Aviation Stage 5. Luciano Benavides took second overall and Toby Price was third.
The epic battle in T3 ended with Seth Quintero taking the race win ahead of Austin Jones. Mitchell Guthrie took the third podium spot. In T4 local hero Mansour Al Helei came second overall, behind Rocas Baciuska, with Pau Navarro third. In Rally2, Tobias Ebster took the overall win with Jean-Luc Lepan in second and Paolo Lucci third. Local hero Abdulaziz Ahli of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council sponsored Abu Dhabi Team took first place overall for his third successive title in the Quad bike category. He came home ahead of Laisvydas Kansius and Adomas Gancierius third.
Abu Dhabi Aviation Stage 5 headed into spectacular and challenging dune territory right from the start, and then on to open desert mixed with razor sharp ridges that are as tough as they are spectacular. A tricky section of dunes leads into a dramatic and almost surreal colour shift from orange sand to white, where the sand is significantly softer, and it presents the last major technical hurdle the competitors have to face before the home stretch, a final, dramatic run over wide open desert that leads to the finish.
2023 has been the one of the safest ADDCs on record with only a small number of medical interventions. President of the FIA Medical Commission and former CMO of EMSO, Sean Petherbridge, commented: “There were seven incidents, with three requiring evacuation by helicopter, and the others presented themselves to the medical team on arrival at the finish. It’s been a safe event overall, and we’ve seen a lower number of incidents than in previous, years which is a reflection on the high quality of the competitors in this race. Also, the weather has been slightly cooler than usual, which has helped in terms of drivers and riders needing to stay well hydrated. This is really important in the latter stages of each stage and the later part of the race when fatigue is an important factor. I also would like to add that the work of the medical team and the presence of the helicopters and the National Ambulance Service is particularly important when it comes to speedy and efficient intervention. Being able to get to competitors quickly is hugely important in terms of guaranteeing the well-being of all involved.”
Emirates Motor Sports Organisation (EMSO) President, H.E. Khalid Ben Sulayem, commented: “The second world championship edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) has been a thrilling journey for everyone concerned, Whether you were here as a competitor, as part of the organisation, or as a spectator, the 2023 edition of the ADDC will remain in our memories for a long time. The combination of skill, action, drama, bravery, and good sporting spirit has marked this year out as an important one in the growth and global awareness of this phenomenal event. We are so proud of everyone who made it happen. We also extend our respectful thanks to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Ruler’s Representative Court in Al Dhafrah Region for their support, hospitality and generosity in making this race such a success.”
During the race Abu Dhabi Aviation’s role is that of acting as a rapid reaction air ambulance service, because when cars and bikes have technical issues, or a participant needs assistance, they are able to get to the scene quickly.H.E. Nadir Al Hammadi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Aviation, said: “Our everyday mission is to oversee aviation safety, security and the environment, as well as facilitating air connectivity for the general public and the civil aviation industry. So, of course, being a partner with EMSO for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is very important to us, because it offers us a very different scenario where we get to show another side of our strengths and abilities, and reinforces everything we stand for. This is such a tough race in a truly extreme and unforgiving environment, that it validates our role and our partnership with EMSO.”
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative Court in Al Dhafra Region; presented by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; with the support of this year’s Energy partner ADNOC Distribution; Automotive partner Al-Futtaim Toyota; Abu Dhabi Aviation; Al Ain Water; Governmental support from the Ministry of Defence & UAE Armed Forces , Abu Dhabi Police, Civil Defence, Abu Dhabi Distribution Co, Al Dhafra Region Municipality, and our media partner Abu Dhabi Sports TV.
*At the time of distribution all results are provisional pending confirmation by the stewards
Race Results T1
1. Yazeer Al Rajhi 16:28:06
2. Martin Prokop +32:57
3. Juan Cruz Yacopini +32:57
1. Seb Quintero 16:58:31
2. Austin Jones. +27:45
3. Hernan Garces Echevarria. +56:28
1. Rocas Baciuska. 17:25:47
2. Mansour Al Helei + 12:03
3. Pau Navarro. + 26:00
1. Adrien Van Beveren. 17:13:39
2. Lorenzo Benvaides. + 04:18
3. Toby Price. + 05:13
1. Tobias Ebster. 18:41:50
2. Jean-Luc Lepan. + 02:37
3. Paolo Lucci. + 11:02
1. Abdulaziz Ahli 22:01:51
2. Laisvydas Kancius. + 01:05:42
3. Adomas Gancierius. + 05:00:26