Media bulletin No.25 1150hrs 2nd April, 2015

Moto 102. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)

Winner of the Quads category

“I am really happy to have won in my category. The rally was a nice challenge and being in the sand was good. It is my ‘home’ and my favourite terrain. The first two days I pushed and then cruised through the other stages. I was pleased to win my favourite, the Nissan stage. It was a shame that today was cancelled as I was looking forward to the hype of arriving into Abu Dhabi.”

Car 217. Mansour Al Helei (UAE)

Winner of the T2 category

“I am very happy to be the winner of the category, in what is very much a family car. This was handed down to me by my father Yahya Al Helei. I pushed so hard in the rally in order to finish. The car is not top in this category and I experienced a lot of mechanical issues but I tried my best and I am delighted with the result.”

Media bulletin No.24 1100hrs 2ndApril, 2015

Moto 34. Tony Land (SWE)

Rider is being treated in ICU at Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi but remains in a stable condition and does not require surgery.

214. Yahya Al Helei / Khalid Al Kendi (UAE/UAE)

Co-driver Al Kendi was back in the rally car today for the road section back to the finish at Yas Marina Circuit after being released from hospital following yesterday’s accident.

Media bulletin No.23 0800hrs 2nd April, 2015

Today's 234km Abu Dhabi Aviation SS 5 has been neutralised because of a heavy sandstorm which has meant that air support for the rally is not possible.

The 89 competitors - 42 cars & buggies, 47 bikes & quads - are taking a road section to Yas Marina Circuit where the rally finishes at 4.30pm.

Helicopter support from Abu Dhabi Aviation is vital to ensure competitor safety. With visibility down to 100m aircraft were unable to take off.

Arrangements will be confirmed shortly for the official finish, and the prize giving which is being moved inside from the scheduled outdoor venue at Yas Marina Circuit.

Media bulletin No.22 1545hrs 1st April, 2015

231. Nazareno Lopez/ Sergio Lafuente (SPA / ARG)

The car hit a dune at speed, jumped too high and rolled. Immediately after car 210 Adam Malysz / Rafal Marton (POL / POL) came over the dune and collided with the vehicle. The driver of 231 was unhurt but his co-driver suffered minor injuries. Both have been taken to Madinat Zayed Hospital for observation.

210. Adam Malysz / Rafal Marton (POL / POL)

Car went over a dune and collided with 231 Nazareno Lopez/ Sergio Lafuente (SPA / ARG) which had crashed previously. Both driver and co-driver were unhurt and were able to carry on with the stage.

214. Yahya Al Helei / Khalid Al Kendi (UAE / UAE)

Following an earlier crash co-driver Khalid Al Kendi is in a stable condition. He is being treated for back injuries at Madinat Zayed Hospital but a CT scan has revealed there are no broken bones.

211. Stephan Schott / Xavier Panseri (DEU / FRA)

Driver has a suspected broken hand and is currently being observed by medical staff at PC3.

Moto 34. Tony Land (SWE)

Rider was airlifted to Madinat Zayed Hospital after sustaining head and chest injuries in a crash. He has since been transported to Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Moto 43. Steve Hague (GBR)

Triggered the alarm for medical assistance but made it to the finish. He is now being transported to the Bivouac by ambulance to be observed by medical staff for dehydration.

Moto 31. Jan Zatko (SVK)

Airlifted to the Bivouac to receive treatment from medical staff for dehydration.

Media bulletin No.21 1350hrs 1st April, 2015

102. Mohammed Abu Issa ( QAT)

“It was great to pass Rafal.  Yesterday I took it easy and he beat me but today I knew I had to push.  I like the Nissan stage, I’ve won it the last three years and this is definitely the hardest one.  I got a minute and a half ahead of him then I punctured my tyre.  I changed it quickly and caught him again.  It was extremely rough and hot but I plan to take it to the finish line.  Tomorrow is apparently an easier stage so hopefully my machine can handle it and then hopefully I can win it.”

202. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel (QAT / FRA )

“It was tough today, it was very hot and the sand is very hot but we did a good job.  We took a lot of caution in this stage because there was a lot of big holes so we need to manage the terrain but out Mini did well and the Michelin tyres worked great in the dunes.  I am happy to finish without any drama and safely.  We need to see what we can do tomorrow but I hope we win this race going to Abu Dhabi. The feeling is great being out in the desert and we do a lot of pace notes so we know the area for next year.  We don’t even see dunes like this in Dakar.  The Desert Challenge is one of a kind and we are always learning.”

201. Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS / RUS )

“We don’t want to push too hard to fight Nasser and make a mistake.  The dunes are hot and sometimes we have to try and find another way around.  We take care and try and stay safe, that’s our priority.  It was difficult for us and the car as well.  You need a strategy to finish.”

206. Erik Van Loon / Wouter Rosegaar (NED / NED)

“This is my third time here and this is the hardest stage I have ever experienced.  The sand was so soft and the heat was challenging.  The clutch has gone but we managed it, we had to back off and lost time.  I am happy we are at the finish.  Our direct competitor Khalid Al Qassimi is not in yet, we followed him for half of it but then passed him and we haven’t seen him since.  I am happy to finish and be here safely.  It was so tough and really hot.”

205. Yazeed Al-Rajhi / Timo Gotschalk ( KSA / DEU )

“A good day and we didn’t get stuck like we did yesterday.  It was a fast and slow stage because of the ups and downs of the dune.”

223. Harry Hunt / Andreas Schulz ( GBR / DEU)

“It was great however really tough due to the harsh heat.  A great stage with a nice tussle with Yazeed towards the end.  I’ve never done this before and never driven this car before.  Despite the dunes being impossible to read, this is a great event.”

Media bulletin No.20 1300hrs 1st April, 2015

1. Marc Coma (SPA)

“Rode in a group of five and in the earlier part across the open desert we managed to get a good rhythm going.  I then took it easy because of the extreme driving conditions and the heat.  I’m very happy with today’s stage.”

11. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI)

“A very tough stage due to the extreme heat and broken dunes.  Happy with the way I feel and with the bike.  Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

3. Joan Barreda Bort (SPA)

“I started opening the track today but kept calm when the other riders arrived.  I maintained a good speed throughout and I had a good finish so I’m happy with today’s performance.”

5. Sam Sunderland (GBR)

“I made the mistake on day two and I finished too early.  This is a new system so we are constantly learning.  We were trying to push hard at the start for the strategy but you never really know what is happening behind you.  I pushed all the way to the refuel.  I feel sorry for Paulo as he had a bike problem but this is life and rallying.  As far as the strategy works when you start in front of the sand, you always lose time.  If there’s anyone you have to lose against, you want it to be Marc.  He’s a great rider so hopefully we can get a KTM 123 on the podium.”

9. Matthias Walkner (AUT)

“I get really hot feet and the blood travels down from the vibrations.  When you are riding its ok but when you stop it’s so hot.  This stage was really nice, the dunes come in a bit more rounded and were pretty fun to ride.  I really enjoyed it but I tried to push a lot and am happy to have won the stage by ten seconds.  After my problems yesterday, I stayed further back so I knew I had to push to make time and it paid off.”

12. Ricky Brabec (USA)

“My day was alright.  The weather is really hot and obviously California doesn’t get this hot.  I came across Paulo with a broken bike and we tried to jump start it but we didn’t succeed.  A lot of soft sand out there and I am not a great sand rider so it was challenging.  I am happy to be out here for the first time and staying safe.  I think I got lucky, it’s unfortunate that the other bikes had problems but that’s racing for you.  I didn’t have a goal coming out here because this rally stuff is all new to me.  Navigating and riding is tough, it’s like driving and texting at the same time.  I came into today in 7th and would love to finish there or higher but ultimately I will just be happy to finish safely.”

7.  Mohammad Al Balooshi (UAE)

“Today was very difficult and hot and with a high heart beat it’s even hotter.  I think I have underestimated my fitness.  Although I am 100% fitter than last year, I feel fatigued on day four and also need to improve my recovery time.  I feel excited to be driving home tomorrow.”

29. David McBride (GBR)

“A tough day because of the heat, the short dunes and the subka plains which are horrible to ride across.  Happy to be here and the bike is good – the only thing is the old man on it! As for tomorrow I am looking forward to a nicely chilled, fizzy amber drink!”

45. Jose Florimo (CHI)

“I think it was a good stage for me and hopefully I gained some time on other riders in my category.  I am feeling more comfortable on the bike but it was tough.  I was more tired than yesterday because of the heat but we are getting better day by day so we shall see what tomorrow brings.”

10. Juan Salvatierra (BOL)

“Biker 45 and I had a good rhythm so we came together and travelled the whole stage pushing each other.  The bike is running perfectly and I feel good.  I started to feel the heat and it was tough.  I thought it was going to be easier but the weather was challenging.”

22. Matt Hart (AUS)

“Today has been the toughest day heat wise.  I had a crash on the last 5km but luckily no injuries.  I skidded on the side but I came out ok.  I am pretty happy as it’s my first one so we shall see what the results say.”

Media bulletin No.19 1220hrs 1st April, 2015   

212 Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi / JoseMarques ( UAE / POR )

Retired from Nissan Patrol SS4 in the middle of the stage with a gearbox problem.

Media bulletin No.18 11:50hrs 1st April, 2015

214      Yahya Al Helei / Khalid Al Kind (UAE / UAE)

Rolled early on Nissan Patrol SS4 but recovered. Then following a heavy landing after 35kms the co-driver was freed from the car by the medical team and evacuated by helicopter to Madinah Sayed Hospital with back injuries. Driver was taking the car back to the start of the stage and expected to later return it to the bivouac.

34        Tony Land (SWE)

Crashed 2kms after PC 1 and was evacuated by helicopter to Madinat Zayed Hospital for observation.

Media bulletin No.17 0930hrs 1st April, 2015

2. Paulo Goncalves (POR)

The defending bikes champion is out due to mechanical problems 40kms into Nissan Patrol SS4. He is currently waiting for the sweep team.

Media bulletin No.16 1415hrs 31th March, 2015

202. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel (QAT / FRA )

“A hard day with big dunes and soft sand, but luckily we didn’t get stuck.  It was also very hot but all okay, we did a good job.  We do not know if we have won the stage at this point.”

206. Erik Van Loon / Wouter Rosegaar (NED / NED )

“We started with a very fast pace today with the dunes at the beginning.  We have a really good car this year and a podium finish is an exciting prospect.”

210. Adam Malysz / Rafal Marton ( POL / POL )

“It was a very nice day and we were able to set a nice tempo.  At one of the big jumps we landed heavy and broke the a/c so the past 150km has been extremely hot.”

Media bulletin No.15 1230hrs 31st March, 2015

3. Joan Barreda Bort (SPA)

“We started really strong but it wasn’t an easy day.  The bike is ok and we were able to go strong all the way and give it our all.”

11. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI)

“Today was better and we can read the lines and dunes better.  I am happy with the day so far and we will see how tomorrow goes.”

6. Ruben Faria (POR)

“I overtook Mohammad Al Balooshiat around 100km point but navigation was difficult.  I had one big jump but fortunately I did not crash.”

5. Sam Sunderland (GBR)

“It was a pretty relaxed day, but not perfect as I lost time to Marc Coma.  All in all it was good and the bike was great.  I had fun and live to fight another day.”

1. Marc Coma (SPA)

“A good day despite the difficult terrain.  The first part was like piste but the open desert was good and I was able to achieve a fast pace.”

7. Mohammad Al Balooshi (UAE)

“A good day and I was proud to open the day in front.  The factory riders are so much faster – about 10kph faster than me.  I need a greater top speed.”

29. David McBride (GBR)

“First section was very fast and extremely dusty.  I helped out the rider of bike 16 which caught fire and is burnt out so lost I lost few minutes there.  The last section was enjoyable and very fast.” 

Media bulletin No.14 1200hrs 31st March, 2015

220. Maxim Kirpilev (RUS)

Rider retired with mechanical problems before PC1 on Qasr Al Sarab SS3.

222. Kanat Shagirov (KAZ)

Rider retired with mechanical problems before PC1 on Qasr Al Sarab SS3. 

Media bulletin No.13 0900hrs 31st March, 2015

9. Matthias Walkner (AUT)

Rider was stopped with engine problems at 35kms into Qasr Al SarabSS3 and is waiting for the sweep team to collect his bike.

103. Kees Koolen (NED)                

Quadrider was halted by mechanical problems 45km into Qasr Al SarabSS3 and is waiting for the sweep team.

16. Armand Hernandez Monleon

Rider unhurt after his bike caught fire 83kms into Qasr Al SarabSS3 and is now waiting for the sweep team.

Media bulletin No.12 1830hrs 30th March, 2015

36. Ian Ganderton (GBR)

Rider was struck by car 208 Lucio Alvarez (Arg) 20km from PC3. The biker was evacuated by helicopter to Madinat Zayed Hospital with a broken leg.  He is being transferred to Rashid Hospital Dubai for surgery. Ian Ganderton was writing a report on the Desert Challenge for the publication Outdoor UAE and on his Facebook page tonight he said Alvarez was not to blame for the accident.

Media bulletin No.11 14:50hrs 30th March, 2015

211. Stephan Schott / Xavier Panseri ( DEU / FRA )

“It was ok although some of the dunes were quite difficult.  The car was great but part of the belly plate is missing.  We stopped for five minutes on a dune so maybe that’s when it happened.  The rest was easy and I am really enjoying it.”

Media bulletin No.10 14:15hrs 30th March, 2015

202. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel (QAT / FRA )

“Yesterday we lost 21 minutes but today we started really good and we were careful for first 150km because the dunes were tricky.  I really pushed for the last part and made up some good time.  Nothing special but I am happy.”

201. Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS / RUS )

“It was a good stage thanks to Nasser because we stayed with him and it was very quick. As we saw him it made it a little bit easier.  If we did it alone we wouldn’t have been able to keep the same speed.  We could not see him when we were in the dust and we lost our rear right tyre and maybe lost around two minutes but we are pleased.”

212. Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE)

“We lost a few minutes stuck in the sand and then had a/c problems.  Hot air was blowing on to us – I drank all the water and then started losing concentration due to dehydration.”

206. Erik Van Loon / Wouter Rosegaar (NED / NED )

“It was very good.  It was a very tricky stage at the beginning and last year we hurt ourselves as we didn’t see a step up so we crashed.  We took care this year but after 50km we stopped as we didn’t have enough speed.  We then pushed and took over Khalid Al Qassimi, then he was pushing so we stayed behind him but then he slowed down and we passed him.  We are happy.”

223. Harry Hunt / Andreas Schulz (GBR / DEU)

“It wasn’t too bad although a lot harder than yesterday.  We didn’t have any air-con so it was really hot and tricky dunes which were really steep at times.  I stayed behind Yazeed Al Rajhi which relaxes you because you can see how their car moves and turns yours correctly.  I don’t know the dunes at all.  I didn’t find the last 20km too bad as it was flat.  This is my first one and I’m happy to be here.”

205.  Yazeed Al-Rajhi / Timo Gotschalk ( KSA / DEU )

“It was not easy, the dunes were very soft and steep but I tried to climb and was careful not to make any mistakes.  There were no major problems.”

209. Marek Dabrowski / Jacek Czachor ( POL / POL )

“A long day and the latter part was difficult because of poor visibility due to the angle of the sun. We took our own route – car is good.”

Media bulletin No.9 13: 30hrs 30th March, 2015

12. Ricky Brabec (USA)

“It’s my second day in the dunes and I’m still learning and still watching what the others do.  Today with the mass start it was more of a leap frog type of race where everyone followed.  Every day is getting better and better on the bike and I am hoping by the end of the week we could do something special.  I just sat back and let everyone go and then the last little bit I just went for it.”

11. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI)

“It was a nice stage, not too much freedom because of the mass start but it was ok.  This is more of a strategic stage for tomorrow because it will determine how you start.  The race is difficult to navigate tomorrow but I am looking forward to it.”

16. Armand Monleon (POL)

“We had really good fun with the start because you can ride with the top guys and follow where they are going and learn so much.  It was a great experience.”

2. Paulo Goncalves (POR)

“It was an interesting start today.  It’s beautiful but with this new rule, we need to know the strategy for where to end as it effects our start tomorrow.  I think I start tomorrow behind my adversaries so I think it’s good.  The Desert Challenge is a special race and I’m happy so tomorrow I will keep going and try to hold my time.”

29. David McBride (GBR)

“The mass start was fun for 120km then I made a navigation error and spent the rest of the time catching up.  The white sand was soft and also difficult to read so I took my own route to avoid the tracks.”

1. Marc Como (SPA)

“I came in quite late and with the mass start the plan was not to push to the font and save myself for tomorrow.  I am feeling happy and the bike is running good.”

9. Matthias Walkner (AUT)

“It was something new, similar to a motor cross start.  The first 140k was nothing special but no one wants to go up in front as it’s hard to push and no one wants to fall off.  At 150k, Sam Sunderland tried to push so Marc and I followed.  The dunes are a little bit strange for me to ride and I need to get used to how they work with the bike but I enjoy it.”

13. Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS)

“The main part was ok and the first 200km went well but then I had some problems with the bike and I fell off.  I have hurt my legs and it was really painful as they collided with the handles.  I kept going but the last 70km was extremely difficult and painful.”

Media bulletin No.8 13.25hrs 30th March, 2015

9. Matthias Walkner (AUT)

“With the mass start we were altogether for the first 40km and it seemed quite dangerous at times.  At 100km with Sam out in front I was second with Marc behind me then in the last 80km I really pushed and crossed the line first.”

7. Mohammed Al Balooshi (UAE)

“Really good day with some ups and downs.  With the mass start there was a lot of sand spraying and my goggles became full of sand.  My visibility was not good but then the camel in me kicked in and I could see – I rode with pride and rode for my country. I could not be prouder.”

10. Juan Salvatierra (BOL)

“It was very demanding but I enjoyed the mass start and being able to ride alongside the top factory guys.”

5. Sam Sunderland (GBR)

“I got stuck in the last part but I arrived first.  It was tough as it was a mass start so it was different.  No one knows what is happening until the last 50km and then everyone starts racing like motocross.  We will see later on how the strategy works out in terms of results.  Everyone holds off at the start and then you have to race like mad at the end but it was good and the bike was great.”

6. Ruben Faria (POR)

“It went ok, not the best day because the starting line was not great for us as it was overcrowded.  Everyone stopped and held us up but that’s just how it is.”

45. Jose Florimo (CHI)

“I enjoyed riding and following the people out in front of me.  I started to work out the geography to get through the dunes and understand the navigation.  It was very good and I learnt a lot.”

Media bulletin No.7 1205hrs 30th March, 2015

227      Juraj Ulrich / Daniela Ulrichova (SVK / SVK)

Driver and co-driver checked by medical team after car caught fire shortly after start of SS2 and treated for shock. Flown by helicopter to bivouac medical centre for observation.

219      Balazs Szalay / Laszlo Bunkoczi ( HUN / HUN )

Car stopped with engine problems between PC1 and PC 2.

Media bulletin No.6, 0800hrs 30th March, 2015

24. Warren Strange (GBR)

Withdrew from the event last night after suffering from exhaustion and dehydration on SS1 but was able to start SS2 today. 

Media bulletin No.5, 1800hrs, 29th March, 2015

202. Nasser Al-Attiyah, (QAT)

“It was good we have finished day one safely. Many drivers had problems but there is still a long way to go. It isn’t going to be easy but we will try to manage and get a good lead and hopefully win the race. 

“We stopped for 22 minutes because we had a small problem with the gear box and afterwards I had to make a big push to get the time back. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Media bulletin No.4,1400hrs, 29th March, 2015

212. Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, (UAE)

“It was a very difficult stage and we almost got stuck twice in the early part.  Then in the last 30km, we got stuck on the edge of a sand dune and lost five minutes.”

211. Stephen Schott (DEU)

“Today has been hot and difficult but with good speed on the sandy tracks enabling fast times. The dunes were not that difficult.”

205. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)

“The drive shaft broke at 160km but my co-driver did a brilliant job in repairing this – we lost one hour.”

251. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum (UAE)

“This is our first time participating in the event and we have had a good experience today.  We had a small electrical problem but apart from that it has been a very good day.”

232. Fernando Castellano (SPA)

“This has been an easy stage and the dunes were not that difficult.  It was a very enjoyable experience and I’m very happy with the rally so far.

Media bulletin No.3,1400hrs, 29th March, 2015

102.  Mohammed Abu Issa, Abu Issa Racing (QAT)

“A nice day overall.  It’s my first rally since Dakar and I think I won the stage so that’s great.  It’s a hot day though so it wasn’t the easiest.  We were in the sand dunes so we didn’t go as fast or get enough wind.”

100.  Rafal Sonik (POL)

“It’s been difficult because we lost fuel in the first phase and barely had any left to get round.  We also had a couple of technical difficulties and the drive shaft has been broken for 90km now.”

104. Nelson Augusto (PAR)

“The first part was very easy and very fast but at 100km it became very difficult and required a lot of technique.  The dunes are very soft and hot.  At 200km, my camel pack was empty and I had no water, so I lost a minute or so because I was so tired.”

Media bulletin No.2,1230hrs, 29th April, 2015

5.  Sam Sunderland (GBR)

“Gave it my all to gain ground and catch up with bikers in front.  It was difficult but I pushed myself really hard to get there.”

9. Matthias Walkner (AUT)

“It was a little tricky riding up front with difficult navigation.  Nothing major to report on after we got into the rhythm.”

7. Mohammad Al Balooshi (UAE)

“I started the stage in third and stayed in the same position until just before the first service.  I then stayed fourth up until I stalled.  Marc Coma (SPA) then passed me but I kept up with him in fourth.  It’s day one of four more long days.  Anything can happen and it’s important to be smart and take it day by day.”

11. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI)

“It was a difficult stage for me but feeling optimistic and happy to break the dunes.”

6. Ruben Faria (POR)

“It didn’t go too badly.  I had problems with my navigation and got a little bit lost, I then had some pains in my wrist but I’m ok.  Tomorrow is another day.”

1. Marc Coma (SPA)

“The first day has been tricky however everyone is excited and pushing.  I am happy and in a good position.”  When asked about the world championship he said: “I am taking it step by step.  Today has been a good start for the team.”

2. Paulo Goncalves (POR)

“Today has been hard as I began fast so I could chase the leaders.  I then lost time when I stopped to help a competitor.  Tomorrow is another day and I need to remain focused.”

14. Jakub Piatek (POL)

“First lead was fast and easier and refuelling was simple.  Dunes were harder and the sand was rough but looking forward to tomorrow.”

16. Armand Monleon (POL)

“It was really good and went well.  It was my first big rally so I took it easy at the start and tried to keep the speed throughout the stages.  Tomorrow will maybe be better for me as I can start with the quick riders and maintain the speed.  It’s step by step for me and we will see what happens.”

82. Chris Dunn, Vendetta Racing, (GBR)

“It was really good overall but tough at the back, caught by a first car refuel, coolant leaking and an oil leak.  Tomorrow is another day.”

3. Joan Barreda Bort, HRC Rally, (SPA)

“Not a good start, lost a lot of time due to a battery problem at CP3.  Paulo Goncalves tried to help me but did not succeed.  Eventually got started with the assistance of another rider.”

25. Damien Riscitelli (AUS)

 “Fairly easy ride.  I’m more used to Dakar but it was ok.”

13. Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS)

“Today has been good but very hot especially after the fuelling stop.  Not too bad now.”

30. Tim Trenker (DEU)

“It was a perfect day until I took a little tumble, the sort you have every week whilst training.  Today however was different as the injury to my ribs means I can no longer continue the rally.”

Media bulletin No:1 008hrs 29th April, 2015

245.  Atif Al Zarouni (UAE)

UAE’s Atif Al Zarouni expected to be fit to start Yas Marina SS1 but his Rage Comet buggy feared too badly damaged after a road traffic accident yesterday.  The 2006 quads winner was treated in hospital after an accident near the circuit following the Super Special Spectator Stage but suffered no serious injuries