It will be symbolic special stage at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi that raises the curtain on the 2015 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Paulo Gonçalves will be out to defend his victory in last year’s edition.

With the competition now celebrating twenty-five years of history, including twenty years of motorcycle racing, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has kicked off once more. Portugal’s Honda CRF450 RALLY ace Paulo Gonçalves is poised to begin the event after having picked up top honours last time round in an event that also saw a first triumph for Honda. ‘Speedy’ Gonçalves sets out as current world championship runner-up.

Also on the Emirate’s start-line will be Team HRC companions Joan Barreda – third in the 2014 FIM Cross-Countries Rallies World Championship – and American rookie Ricky Brabec, winner of the 2014 Bajas 250, 500 and 1000.

The Yas Marina circuit has, for the last three days, become the competition headquarters and as pre-race activities begin to wind down, the track has witnessed a display from motorcycle rally’s elite, although for the time being without the clock. The chronometer comes out for tomorrow’s first stage that will cover 404 kilometres, including the timed special of 262.36 km that will take the participants out into the Liwa Desert in the Al Garbia region.


29 March 1 –Yas Marina Circuit 262,36 142,12 404,48
30 March 2 – ADNOC 279,24 231,79 511,03
1 April 3 –Qasr Al Sarab 272,8 127,21 400,01
2 April 4 – Nissan Patrol 258,1 146,9 405
3 April 5 – Abu Dhabi Aviation 233,77 137,49 371,26
Total 1306,27 785,51 2091,78

Taichi Honda

Team HRC Rally Project Leader

This is a really important race for Team HRC as well as the other rallies in the World Championship as it is a great test ahead of the next Dakar. It will also be good to see the evolution of the new riders and to make plans for the future.

Paulo Goncalves

After the Dakar, we are out here in Abu Dhabi to begin the new world championship season with the intention of defending my win in last year’s edition. Team HRC is ready to fight, not only for the victory here, but also for the whole of the season.

Joan Barreda

We are back in Abu Dhabi and I’m very pleased to be here once more for the opening of the season. It’s a great race with five days battling up close to the rivals. This is a very intense rally; let’s see how it turns out over the next few days once we get out into the desert.

Ricky Brabec

I’m thankful to Team HRC for letting me ride with them and after today’s prologue I’m ready for the six day special stages, out here for the first time doing rallies.

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)