The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has started today at Yas Marina Circuit. This year the off-road race is held as the second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and the round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship
The Russian crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov, participating in the event in the BMW X3 SS, completed short pre-race tests – the driver and the co-driver tried to set the car up for the upcoming multi-day rally raid. Today the organizers have paid maximum attention to the pre-start procedures: in addition to administrative and technical checks that took place according to the racing week schedule, some first aid training activities have been held. The racers trained to extract a “victim” from a sports car and learned to be prepared for emergency procedures aimed at maintaining a person’s life in the event of an accident — a situation when paramedics are expected to arrive.
Konstantin Zhiltsov, co-driver, “The day was full of events, but nothing special happened – there were administrative checks and a technical commission. Then we had some time to drive and set up the car. After that there was a medical briefing – all the crews trained to provide first aid to the victims. Further the official briefing with the organizers and the Ceremonial start under the Yas Marina Circuit stands took place. The weather is completely not typical for Abu Dhabi, although it is +30C. The sand is quite challenging and heavy due to the fact that there were rains. There’s such a crust with dry sand under it, but further there’s water, and, of course, it’s difficult for the car. So today we’ve set the vehicle up under the conditions of such surface. Weather forecasters expect the temperature to rise – we’ve made several adjustments for different conditions in order to know what to do in case of changing weather conditions. There was body adaptation, some driving and technical preparations”.
This time the organizers decided not to hold the traditional “spectator” special stage in Abu Dhabi. In previous years it took place directly on the Formula 1 asphalt track of the Yas Marina Circuit, but for rally raid drivers it was a very atypical pastime – the vehicles equipped with energy-intensive suspensions are not designed for high-speed turns and maneuvers.
Moreover, the engines, designed to survive the heat and load, are not suitable for “moment” mode that can be implemented on the circuit. In 2019 the rally raid will begin immediately off-road – the hot sand tracks of the emirate will be waiting for the racers tomorrow.
The first leg with a length of 329 kilometers is designed to prepare drivers for a multi-day rally; the special stage will not be extremely long – only 262 kilometers. By noon will be possible to determine how fast the racers are – the first results of the finishers will appear after 13:00.