Six weeks after the Dakar in Saudi Arabia, the World Rally Raid Championship is back for the second stop with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. From next Sunday – 25 February  – until 3 March the action is back and Monster Energy Honda Team is determined to set the pace in this gruelling sand competition.

The team will be at the start with all riders, with the return of American Ricky Brabec, who was injured during the last Dakar Rally and is now cleared to compete again. Chileans Pablo Quintanilla and José Ignacio Cornejo will also be at the start with Brabec. Same applies to Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren, who will race his first Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge representing Monster Energy Honda Team.

With a very special taste for the sand lovers, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge starts with the traditional prologue on 26 February followed by five stages to rediscover the depths of the empty quarter in the United Arab Emirates. The race will feature a total of 1,311 kilometres of Special Stages until 3 March.

Delivered by the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO), this race is a true classic going now for its 32nd edition. Last year Monster Energy Honda Team riders were at the spotlight, with the second and third places for Brabec and Quintanilla.

The team had already had their first taste of the terrain with the shakedown. All riders were literally flying in the dunes in a short but very intense session that was crucial to make sure everything is ready for the action to come: Sunday is prologue time, followed by five Special Stages.

Ruben Faria

General Manager

“We are happy to be here for the second race of the World Rally Raid Championship with our four riders. Ricky is not one hundred percent fit after his Dakar crash, but he feels much better and has medical permission to race. The race is very special and this year should be similar to the previous edition, with most tracks composed with dunes. Here it is very important to start well and this means full concentration for the prologue, so let’s see how the boys do. All the team is united and focused for the moment and we can’t wait for the time to start the action. ”

Ricky Brabec 9

“We are happy to be back. Not the start of the year we wanted but we know what we do is very dangerous and anything can happen at any moment. Anyways, we are looking back to getting up and on the bike here in Abu Dhabi even though we know we aren't 100% in race shape we will do our best at this rally always thinking about the next Dakar, that is our main objective. To understand the toughness of the rally and how fragile the body is, after already two neck surgeries it was best to make the call and seek professional help in the USA where we discovered the T1-T2 brake. After 6 weeks I am cleared to get back to activity slowly which put me here in Abu Dhabi”.

Pablo Quintanilla 7

“Excluding the travel days, there was not much time to rest and prepare for the Abu Dhabi Desert after the Dakar Rally. When I got home in Chile I had the flu, so this was quite a setback. I did my best to get back on training but I don’t feel so strong now. But this is part of the job, we have to manage it the best way. I know this race is very demanding and even dangerous, so we need to focus right from the moment we do the shake down.”

Private: José Ignacio “Nacho” Cornejo 11

“We are ready for the second stop of the World Rally Raid Championship here in Abu Dhabi. This is a race I have always enjoyed a lot in the past. Now we have to focus and do all we can to be consistent and reach a solid race. Let’s see if we can improve our performance since the last Dakar Rally. I am fully motivated to start this race and very happy to be with all the team once again. ”

Adrien Van Beveren 42

“I also had the flu but now I feel much better and ready to face this race. It seems the Dakar Rally was yesterday and after that I kept on training and racing - I have done the Touquet Enduro like always. This will be the first time I will race in Abu Dhabi during the winter, since In the past the race was in November. I was second once here and I feel very happy to be back in this fantastic landscape full of dunes. ”

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)