Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2014

Post By QUADSSVMAG.com Published on the 22/04/2014

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From the 3rd to the 10th April, the rally raid quad riders and SSV drivers meet for the first round of the FIM and for the third round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Championship. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is organised in the Rubu’ al Khali, which literally means the Empty Quarter, one of the largest desert and the largest expanse of continuous sand in the world. It forms a rectangle of 1000 kilometers long and 500 kilometers wide, in the most southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. It is situated mainly on the territory of Saudi Arabia, but also in the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Oman. In this desert which also serves as a wonderful playground, some of its dunes reach 250 meters high and under the effect of the wind, they can move in just few hours.

This is one of the most inhospitable desert in the world, where even the Bedouin camel herders make only some brief visits. Especially since the scorching heat adds to the difficulty of the challenge. Yet it is here that the 5 days of racing are scheduled. Welcome to hell…

In the quad category, reading the list of the 8 riders at the start, a duel between the Qatari Mohamed Abu Issa and the Polish Rafal Sonik emerges. The first one, winner of the last edition of the ADDC, arrives motivated more than ever. His ambition in 2014 is to win the Quad World Cup that Sonik acquired in 2013. To note also the presence of two other “Dakariens” Camelia Liparoti and Sergey Karyakin respectively 13th and 7th in the 2014 edition of the legendary rally.

Unfortunately for the outstanding Qatari all the hope of victory is lost in the second stage due to a technical problem which has caused him a loss of 1h27m from the general standing leader, Rafal Sonik. He will have long regrets finishing third in the final overall at 1h32m behind the winner and having won stage 4. Rafal Sonik’s race, for its part, is perfect. Regular and fast from the beginning to the end, he wins for the first time the rally who has turned his victory down for many years. The Russian Karyakin catapulted by its powerful KTM 690 Rally engine has perfectly played the game. Slower than Sonik and having taken an advantage of Abu Issa technical problems, he has moved up to a very strong second place on the podium at Yas Marina Island.

Camelia Liparoti finishes in Abu Dhabi on the 4th place overall in the quad-bike category and to wins the female category motorbike/quad bike riding her Yamaha 700. After using the first stage to improve the settings of her quad, which  makes her lose some  time, she then fully exploites the potential of the vehicle from the next stage onward in giving the best of her talent. Her experience in this type of terrain together with choosing a « smart » race strategy allows her to overtake the Hungarian Somfay. Remarkable 5th place for the Brit Patrick Mc Murren who, on his first quad-bike rally participation, completes all the stages without getting any penalties.

With regards to the SSV, 3 Polaris and 1 Can-Am fight for victory. But here as well the suspense was short lived. The Polaris of Fadel and the Can-Am of Tareq Abu Issa suffer from mechanical problems in the first stage. This cost them very heavy time penalties. Therefore, the two members of the Team X’Treme Plus go for victory. The first 2 stages are to the advantage of the Italian Fogliani in front of Jes Munk (ex-motorcycle racer), who discovers the «  pilotage » of an SSV. Actually, this « quality » costs him time on the first 2 stages. Breaking with his left foot creates a problem on his RZR. He brakes a countless number of belts and looses a lot of time to change them on the track. Once Jes understands the origin of his troubles, he changes his riding style…Then no more broken belts and a second place 5 seconds behind Fogliani in stage 3.

The next day, it’s even better when he wins the stage with nearly 16 minutes on the Italian. But « time lost will never be caught up ». Worse, on the last day he gets a gasket broken, so no hope for victory, which goes to Fogliani team, father and son.

On the Can-Am side of Tareq Abu Issa, “the youth” of this vehicle, tested only a few days before the race, will not allow him to fight for victory. But the potential is present. After spending the stages 1 to 4 « discovering »  the vehicle and making any necessary changes, the  last stage allows him to express himself at last! And the result is immediate : he wins the stage with more than 18 minutes ahead of the Italian Polaris!

If the dominance of the Team X’Treme Plus is not in discussion, the next races should certainly show Jes Munk and Tareq Abu Issa move up in power. To be followed…

 

© photos: PNT, MCH, J. Tomaselli, C Barni

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2014 by QUADSSVMAG.com

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