The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge moves into the heart of the Liwa desert with a dune-filled and navigationally tricky second stage. Paulo Gonçalves battles back from a fall to post second on the day. A penalty to Matthias Walkner for speeding has given the Portuguese the lead of the provisional. Kevin Benavides continues to make progress and sees a physical improvement in his bid to overcome a hand injury.
It was a gruelling 290 kilometres against the clock for the Monster Energy Honda Team in the second stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the Liwa dunes where the riders had plenty of tough navigation and continual direction changes to deal with.
Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves set off in hot pursuit of the front-runners, managing to catch up the leading pack before the first control point at kilometre 70. From then on, the five riders heading the field formed a group that stayed together until the finish-line. A few kilometres from the goal Paulo fell whilst taking a low dune and had to check both the bike and himself for damage. Luckily, the inspection proved to be negative and in little time the rider was back in the fray aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY to take the day’s second fastest time and move up in the overall ranking to second place. After reviewing the riders’ tracking, organization have penalized Mathias Walkner with one minute for speeding, with which Gonçalves has become new leader of the race.
Meanwhile Gonçalves’ team-mate in the Monster Energy Honda Team, Kevin Benavides, continues to make a successful comeback to rallying after injury. Apart from minor pains in the wrist area near the race-start, the Argentinean was racing at near full pace in the latter stretches of the race before taking fifth fastest time on the day. The Argentinean rider now lies in sixth overall.
The third stage will, likewise, be played out tomorrow in the Liwa Desert with 288.73 kilometres of timed special stage.
Stage 2 results
|1||Renet Pierre-Alexandre||FRA||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||4:05'05|
|2||Goncalves Paulo||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+ 2'17|
|3||Walkner Matthias||AUT||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+ 3'48|
|4||Quintanilla Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+ 6'43|
|5||Benavides Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+ 7'31|
|6||Sunderland Sam||GBR||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+ 9'43|
|7||Jaffar Mohammed||UAE||KTM||+ 19.32|
|8||Al Balooshi Mohammed||UAE||Ride to Abu Dhabi Team||KTM||+ 20'33|
|9||Meo Antoine||FRA||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+ 24'47|
|10||Tomiczek Adam||POL||KTM Orlen Rally Team||KTM||+ 59'41|
Provisional Standings after Stage 2
|1||Goncalves Paulo||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||7:41'41.8|
|2||Walkner Matthias||AUT||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+ 27.8|
|3||Renet Pierre-Alexandre||FRA||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+ 1'12.5|
|4||Quintanilla Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+ 1'21'.4|
|5||Sunderland Sam||GBR||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+ 4'15.7|
|6||Benavides Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+ 11'25.7|
|7||Meo Antoine||FRA||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+ 39'23.3|
|8||Al Balooshi Mohammed||UAE||Ride to Abu Dhabi Team||KTM||+ 51'56.9|
|9||Jaffar Mohammed||UAE||KTM||+ 1:23'37.7|
|10||McBride David||GBR||Vendetta Racing UAE||KTM||+ 1:38'48.8|
The erstwhile UAE Desert Challenge, one of the world’s most prestigious international cross country rallies, entered a new era in March 2009 when it was renamed the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with the five-day motor sport spectacular being staged in its entirety across Abu Dhabi emirate under the auspices of the Abu… read more.
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