Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge starts this weekend in the United Arab Emirates – a legendary race, founded in 1991 by Mohammed bin Sulayem, President of the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE). Over the years this rally raid has gathered an exceptional star cast of participants, and even people far from motor racing have heard such names as Carlos Sainz, Ari Vatanen, Heinz Kinigadner. In 2009 the event got a new name that has become a brand – Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and fixed a multi-day period – five days – in the regulations.
In 2019 the race will be held as the first round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, as well as the round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
The Ceremonial start will be held on Saturday; on the same day there will be a short special stage, the results of which will be crucial for the first day starting positions choice for those ten lucky ones who can set the best time. The Ceremonial start will be preceded by two pre-race days filled with administrative and technical checks at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The Russians Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov have not missed any of the FIA World Cup rounds from the beginning of the season, making the logistics of their performances such way that they can reach the start of each race with the prepared vehicle. And if Vasilyev and Zhiltsov occupy the leading position in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas after two stages, in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies the Russians secure the third places among drivers and co-drivers.
This time the crew will try to play the positions back and rise in the standings in a car built by Vasilyev Racing Team – BMW X3 CC. The entry list includes 39 crews in cars, and 16 racers will compete with the top Russian crew in the T1.2 category. The following famous drivers have decided to perform in Abu Dhabi:
– record holder in the number of victories at DAKAR Stefan Peterhansel,
– Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi,
– multiple DAKAR and Silk Way winner Cyril Despres,
– current FIA World Cup holder Jakub Przygonski and others.
The fight is clearly scheduled, given the status of the drivers and their level of training.
“It’s always hot and sunny here, and that is the most memorable. In terms of the fight, everything is quite interesting, and it is always difficult to predict who will stand on the podium. Everything is important here – mechanical preparation, physical one, and, of course, the ability to ride on the dunes. It’s the whole complex”, says Konstantin Zhiltsov, the G-Energy Team crew co-driver.
The racers will have to overcome 1,284 competitive kilometers, divided into five special stages (and days), and 723 kilometers of liaisons to them. The Wednesday stage promises to be the most difficult one, when the drivers will have to stay behind the wheel for 520 kilometers!
The pilots will have to overcome 1,284 speed kilometers, divided into five special stages (and days), and 723 kilometers of spans to the sports sections. The most difficult promises to be the stage on Wednesday, when the pilots will have to drive 520 kilometers!
In 2018 the Russian duo of Vasilyev and Zhiltsov completed the five-day rally raid in the Persian Gulf bay in the third position; we will know very soon, how the fight for points in the series will be carried on this season!