It was a very positive start of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023 for Monster Energy Honda Team. Pablo Quintanilla was the fastest rider on the six kilometres prologue held today in Al Dhannah (5:00 minutes) and Adrien Van Beveren was second (2 seconds away). Still recovering from his crash on the last Dakar Rally, Ricky Brabec made the sixth best time. José Ignacio Cornejo closed the top ten. According to the World Rally Raid Championship rules, all top 10 riders now have the chance to choose their starting order for tomorrow and this has an important strategic value.

After this warm up, the real competition starts tomorrow with the first stage connecting the city of  Al Dhannah and Qasr Al Sarab – with a total of 404 kilometres. There will be first a 59 kilometres liaison to reach the start of the Special Stage.  The 242 km on the chronograph will be composed of 43% of dunes, 52% of sandy tracks, 4% of chott and 1% of tarmac. The first bike will start at 8am local time (+4h GMT).

Ruben Faria

General Manager

“Today we had the start of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, a very hard rally with a lot of dunes and much navigation. I am happy with the outcome of the prologue, we were able to lead and get position one and second. All riders are in a good position for tomorrow. Now they have to choose their position for stage one and I think we have some advantage to start behind. This is for sure a good start to the race so now let's focus on keeping the team in the top standings . ”

Pablo Quintanilla 7

“Prologue went really well, it was a short one but a very technical track. The feeling was good. We started from behind and there were a lot of lines in the curves. Sometimes it was quite tricky to go, but I managed to do a good prologue. Now I have a good position for tomorrow so we will keep pushing to keep our lead.”

Adrien Van Beveren 42

“Today I felt good on my Honda CRF 450 Rally and I am happy with my prologue. This was just a short warmup so now we have five more days of racing and I am looking forward to it. ”

Ricky Brabec 9

“Prologue is done and it feels really nice to be back on my Honda CRF 450 Rally! There were a lot of straight lines out there so it was a fast track. Anyway this is just day one of five more, so let’s see how things shake up. One thing is for sure - I am very happy to be back!”.

Private: José Ignacio “Nacho” Cornejo 11

“I have concluded the prologue and that was good to me since I did better than other times. I really enjoyed riding in the soft sand and felt I was starting to get a loose rhythm. I feel quite ready and prepared for the competition, knowing we will face a lot of difficult dunes. The idea is go out there, do our best and also have a good time!”

2023 World Rally Raid Championship
Prologue Round WORLD2   Abu Dhabi

Provisional Standings after Prologue

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Quintanilla Pablo 7 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 5:00
2 Van Beveren Adrien 42 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 5:02
3 Price Toby 18 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 5:05
4 Klein Mason 43 USA BAS World KTM Racing Team KTM 5:08
5 Evan Branch Ross 16 BWA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero 5:16
6 Brabec Ricky 9 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 5:16
7 Bühler Sebastian POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero 5:18
8 Benavides Luciano 77 ARG Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna 5:18
10 Cornejo José Ignacio "Nacho" 11 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 5:25
Location Information

The legendary UAE Desert Challenge, one of the world’s most prestigious international cross country rallies founded by Emirati Motorsport legend, former EMSO President and the new FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem back in 1991, and over the years has seen many of the biggest names in international motorsport tackle the… read more.

Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates - View in Google Maps


2021 Matthias Walkner (KTM)
2019 Sam Sunderland (KTM)
2018 Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna)
2017 Sam Sunderland (KTM)
2016 Toby Price (KTM)
2015 Marc Coma (KTM)
2014 Paulo Gonçalves (Honda)