The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge got off to an exhilarating start as legendary drivers Sébastien Loeb and Nasser Al Attiyah battled it out on the challenging terrain of the Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi. The race is known for its extreme conditions and tough terrain, making it one of the most grueling off-road races in the world.
Loeb, who won the race last year, got off to a slow start and was trailing behind Al Attiyah in the opening stages. However, the Frenchman soon found his rhythm and started to gain ground on his rival. He eventually overtook Al Attiyah and finished the first stage in first place with a time of 3 hours, 21 minutes, and 16 seconds.
Al Attiyah, who is a three-time Dakar Rally champion and the most successful driver in the history of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, put in a strong performance but was unable to match Loeb’s pace. He finished the stage in second place with a time of 3 hours, 24 minutes, and 3 seconds, just over two and a half minutes behind the Frenchman.
Loeb’s victory was all the more impressive considering he had only just tested his new Prodrive-built BRX Hunter T1 car for the first time earlier this week. Meanwhile, Al Attiyah had a full year of racing under his belt in his Toyota Hilux.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is part of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and attracts some of the best off-road drivers in the world. This year’s race has a total of 34 competitors from 18 countries, including former winners and Dakar Rally champions.
The first stage of the race covered a distance of 291.38 kilometers, starting and finishing at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in the Liwa Oasis. The drivers had to navigate through deep sand dunes and rocky terrain while also enduring scorching temperatures.
Loeb was pleased with his performance and the reliability of his new car, but he remained focused on the challenges ahead. “It was a good start for us today, but there are still four more stages to go, so we need to keep pushing,” he said. “The car was good, and we didn’t have any problems, so that’s a positive sign. We’ll see how things go tomorrow.”
Al Attiyah was happy with his second-place finish and praised Loeb for his performance. “Today was a good day for us, and we’re happy to be in second place,” he said. “Sébastien was very fast today, and he deserved to win. We’ll try to do our best tomorrow and see what happens.”
The second stage of the race covered a distance of 274.82 kilometers, with the drivers starting and finishing at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort. The course included several challenging sections that tested the drivers’ skills and endurance.
Loeb and Al Attiyah continued their battle for supremacy in the Abu Dhabi desert during the second stage. While Loeb managed to maintain his lead for most of the stage, Al Attiyah was never too far behind. In the end, Loeb finished the stage in first place, extending his lead over Al Attiyah to over four minutes.
The third stage of the race was the longest and toughest, covering a distance of 383.11 kilometers. The drivers had to navigate through a series of technical sections, including deep sand dunes and rocky terrain. Despite the challenges, Loeb managed to maintain his lead and finished the stage in first place, with Al Attiyah in second place, just over five minutes behind.
The fourth stage of the race was shortened due to safety concerns, but it still presented a significant challenge to the drivers. The stage covered a distance of 219.76 kilometers and included several fast and technical sections. Loeb continued to dominate, finishing the stage in first place and extending his lead over Al Attiyah to over six minutes.
The fifth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was a short but challenging sprint to the finish line. The stage covered a distance of 214.40 kilometers and included several challenging sections that tested the drivers’ skills and endurance. Despite a strong performance from Al Attiyah, Loeb managed to maintain his lead and crossed the finish line in first place, securing his second consecutive victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
After the race, Loeb expressed his satisfaction with the performance of his new car and his team. “It was a tough race, but we managed to stay focused and keep pushing throughout the five stages,” he said. “The car performed really well, and the team did a great job in keeping it running smoothly. I’m really happy with the win and looking forward to the next challenge.”
Al Attiyah congratulated Loeb on his victory and praised the quality of the competition. “It was a great race, and Sébastien drove really well,” he said. “There were some tough sections out there, but we managed to get through them and put in a strong performance. It’s always tough competing against the best drivers in the world, but it’s also a great feeling to be a part of such a high-quality competition.”
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is known for its extreme conditions and tough terrain, and this year’s edition was no exception. The drivers had to endure scorching temperatures, deep sand dunes, rocky terrain, and technical sections that tested their skills and endurance to the limit. Despite the challenges, Loeb managed to maintain his focus and composure throughout the five stages and emerged as the worthy winner.
In conclusion, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge lived up to its reputation as one of the most grueling off-road races in the world. Sébastien Loeb’s victory over Nasser Al Attiyah was a testament to his skill and determination, as well as the quality of his new car and his team. The race was a showcase of the best off-road drivers in the world and a thrilling spectacle for fans of motorsports.