Sulayem spotlights crucial roles of Abu Dhabi Aviation, ADNOC as UAE leads way in sports science research

 Abu Dhabi Aviation again provides the potentially life-saving aerial Search And Rescue support for the medical crews during the Abu Dhabi Desert ChallengeDubai, UAE, 30 March, 2014:  The Middle East’s original world championship motor sport event breaks new ground next week aided by a big logistical operation in the deserts of the UAE’s Western Region of Al Garbia.


While top drivers and riders from the Middle East and overseas battle it out in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge powered by Nissan, another team will be working just as hard behind the scenes in a first of its kind sports science research project.

Their analysis of the effects of fatigue on competitors could help reduce the threat of accidents and injuries in international cross country rallying, and two of the event’s biggest supporters have key roles to play.

Abu Dhabi Aviation, the Middle East’s largest commercial helicopter operator, again provides the potentially life-saving aerial Search And Rescue (SAR) support for the medical crews who are normally called to assist more than 10 per cent of competitors during the event.

Safety is always a top priority in the Desert Challenge, which has been part of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies since 1993, and this time the medical team on board will also study the effects of fatigue in order to assess the risk of competitor error.

The findings of the research team being assembled by the rally organisers, the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE, will be presented to the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body, and the FIM, the International Motorcycling Federation, and also made available to other national motor sport authorities and event organisers worldwide.

Another crucial link in the safety and research operation is provided by ADNOC, which is meeting the rally’s need for more than 25,000 litres of fuel – petrol and diesel for the cars, bikes and support vehicles, and aviation fuel for the helicopters.

To reduce flying time and speed rescue operations, ADNOC will set up mobile refuelling bases in the desert, in addition to fixed refuelling bases at the bivouac, the rally’s desert base for four nights, and in Madinat Zayed.

“Without the support of Abu Dhabi Aviation and ADNOC, the Desert Challenge simply wouldn’t happen,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE and FIA Vice President. “We’re indebted to them for the huge amount of assistance they provide.”

“Safety of competitors is our No. 1 priority, and that’s why we’ve commissioned a research project this year to see how fatigue affects competitors in events like this. We want to make the sport safer for all competitors by reducing the risk of accidents.”

Taking place under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge begins with a super special spectator stage on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, on 5 April.

Used by the route planning team to create the five demanding desert stages that follow, the Nissan Patrol, “Hero of All terrain in Life”, is the official vehicle of the event for an 11th year.

The rally’s line-up of strategic partners and supporters also includes the Ruler’s Court in the Western Region, Western Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality the UAE Army, Abu Dhabi Police, Yas Marina Circuit, Al Ain Water, Abu Dhabi Waste Management, Rotana and Centro Hotels – Yas Island, Qasr Al Sarab Resort, the Tourism Development and Investment Company, TAG Heuer, Explorer and DP World.

Meeting the rally’s need for fuel, ADNOC will set up mobile refuelling bases in the desert.The ATCUAE research team studying the effects of fatigue on competitors will be led by Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre, Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at the University of Limerick in Ireland.


He will work closely with Dr. Sean Petherbridge, the ATCUAE’s Chief Medical Officer, and other members of the club’s research division, the Motorsport Knowledge Institute.

The medical team will examine all 108 competitors during the event, which is the third round of this year’s FIA World Cup series, and the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes which it has been part of since 1996.