Motoring Weekly

Desert challenge

November 6 - 12, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Desert challenge

The Emirates Motorsport Club are calling on Bahrain’s top drivers and riders to take up the UAE’s road rally run staged at the Liwa Desert on November 15 and 16.

The inaugural Abu Dhabi Baja two-day desert challenge, based at the renowned Moreeb Dune facility with the backing of Liwa Sport Club, will be offering prize money in all categories including T1, T2, Group S and UTV Auto classes, as well as Motos 450, 250 and quad.

Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, founder and President of the Emirates Motorsport Club, said: “We’ve already started attracting drivers and riders from the other Gulf countries, and we hope the launch of a two-day rally will bring many more to the UAE.”

The rally race, held under the patronage of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, is being launched as the flagship event of the UAE Baja Championship. It is currently in its debut season with four one-day rallies already completed and another to follow in Fujairah on December 13.

Mohammed Al Balooshi, the first Emirati bikes star to capture a World Cup rally title, says he will have to be at his best to win the Abu Dhabi Baja and maintain his championship hopes. After a fourth round victory in Dubai earlier this month, Balooshi holds a fragile lead in the Motos 450 class of the inaugural UAE Baja Championship, and with only 11 points separating the top four riders the title race effectively remains wide open.

The 2018 FIM Bajas World Cup champion currently tops the standings by a single point from veteran rider Dave McBride, with Kuwait’s third round winner Mohamed Jafar and Dubai-based South African Aaron Mare, winner of the first two rounds, also in contention.

“The competition is at a very good level in this first year of the championship and the arrival of the Abu Dhabi Baja will certainly add to that,” said Balooshi. “There’s very little between the top group of riders and nothing less than your best will be good enough to win.”

From the rally base at Moreeb Dune, competitors head out into the spectacular dunes of the Rub Al Khali for two special stages amounting to 250km of competitive off road rallying, in a route totalling 280km in length, including liaisons.

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