The first round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge sprung in to action in the United Arab Emirates with the first heavy dose of dunes in this open desert race. Benavides, was the best rider of the Monster Energy Honda Team.
Riders had to tackle a 418.38 kilometre course in total, including 276 km of timed special stage in the dunes between the Yas Marina Circuit and the great erg of Liwa, an area that will host the action over the coming days. A vast sea of dunes, some of which are particularly treacherous, called for some extremely cautious riding.
Kevin Benavides took the start this morning in second position, which made it easier for other riders to follow in his wake. Despite holding a solid pace, the Argentine Monster Energy Honda Team rider posted fourth overall place and will be looking to improve on this over the following stages.
Portuguese team-mate Paulo Gonçalves, in his first race back from the injury that kept him out of the most recent Dakar, got his first contact with the dunes to finish in seventh position.
A good start for Ricky Brabec, who has been able to put in a steady overall performance on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, finishing in sixth position. Tomorrow, Monday, the American will look forward to clawing back time from the current leader. Meanwhile, both Michael Metge and José Ignacio Cornejo completed their mission of making first contact with the demanding dunes and tough navigation that the Desert Challenge offers. Both avoided big risks and made up the numbers in the top ten.
Tomorrow, will see the second stage of this first world championship. Riders can expect a day featuring 287.92 kilometres of timed special, all of which will play out in the vast desert of Liwa.
Provisional results Stage 1
|1||Price Toby||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||3:13:00|
|2||Sunderland Sam||GBR||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+2'51|
|3||Walkner Matthias||AUT||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+7'20|
|4||Benavides Kevin||2||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+9'36|
|5||Quintanilla Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+10'42|
|6||Brabec Ricky||11||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+11'55|
|7||Goncalves Paulo||4||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+17'09|
|8||Cornejo José Ignacio||15||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+19'21|
|9||Al Balooshi Mohammed||UAE||Balooshi Racing KTM UAE||KTM||+19'23|
|10||Metge Michael||FRA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+21'06|
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.
Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates - View in Google Maps