Competitors battling for national honours also set sights on Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Mohammed Ben Sulayem – says the UAE Desert Championship events are very good preparation for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge


Dubai, UAE 13 February, 2014: The UAE Desert Championship takes on extra significance tomorrow for drivers and riders fighting for national titles and already eyeing other targets on the world stage in less than two months time.

After a record 96 cars, buggies, bikes and quads contested last month’s third round, another powerful line-up of competitors and rally machinery will assemble for round four of the inaugural rally series in the desert south of Dubai tomorrow (Friday) morning.

All the action in the short track rally will unfold during a frenetic two-hour period, and for many the event doubles up as a perfect warm-up in fiercely competitive conditions for the 24th edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, taking place from April 3-10.

Four-point cars division leader Ahmad Al Maqoodi also comfortably tops the buggies standings in his Polaris RZR XP, while Sean Gaugain leads the race for the bikes title and Mohammed Shamsi has control of the quads category.

A total of 12 national titles are still up grabs in the inaugural Desert Championship, which provides a natural link to the Desert challenge, the UAE’s round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars, and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship for bikes.

 “The new championship is accessible and attractive to a lot more people than usual because of the format which is designed for cars, buggies, bikes and quads” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the national motor sport authority.

“Competitors love these desert rallies, especially the riders. For them it’s a different type of racing to moto cross, with a lot more strategy involved and more endurance training needed. Bike preparation is very important. It’s not just a matter of who has the quickest machine.

“Overall, the Desert Championship events are very good preparation for the Desert Challenge. The rallies are very useful for testing and development of cars and bikes, and the riders in particular use them for fitness training.”

Organised by the Emirates Motor Sport Federation, with TAG Heuer Middle East as the official timekeeper and founding partner, the UAE Desert Championship is run with the support of the ATCUAE.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from competitors about the championship format, and the way it helps them prepare for the Desert Challenge,” said Sulayem, the FIA Vice President. “There are a lot of positives to take from this first season, but we’ll also be looking to learn from our experiences to make it a bigger and better championship next season.”

With practice prohibited, the route for the final round, running in the Al Yufrah 2 desert area south of Dubai, will be revealed to competitors tomorrow (Friday) morning before the cars, buggies, bikes and quads go into action between 9am-11am.