Top contenders battle for breakthrough in Abu Dhabi desert challenge
Victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is one of the most valued rewards in cross country rallying, and a host of the world’s leading contenders have arrived in the UAE with the special motivation to secure a first win in the event, which is fuelled by ADNOC Distribution. Six of the top seven ranked drivers starting the second round of the new World Rally-Raid Championship at the weekend are seeking a breakthrough among the dramatic dunes of the Al Dhafra region.
Making his debut in the UAE, nine-times World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, along with Yazeed Al Rajhi, Jakub Przygonski, Mathieu Serradori, Sebastian Halpern and Denis Krotov, all want to join the distinguished winners list. Of the 38 starting drivers, only defending champion Nassser Al Attiyah, multiple winner Stéphane Peterhansel and the Czech Republic’s Martin Prokop in 2018, have triumphed in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and it’s a similar story on two wheels. While 14 of the world’s leading factory team stars are in a powerful line-up of 50 riders, only Sam Sunderland (2017 & 2019), Toby Price (2016), Pablo Quintanilla (2018) and defending champion Matthias Walkner have stood on the victory podium in Abu Dhabi.
Over the years, the rally has built fascinating individual rivalries, like the one between Spain’s Marc Coma and Frenchman Cyril Despres, who between them won the bikes crown a combined 13 times between 2001 and 2015. The current elite group of top riders assembled in Abu Dhabi, which also includes the Argentinian brothers Kevin and Luciano Benavides, American star Ricky Brabec and Portugal’s Joaquim Rodrigues, could not chose a better, or more dramatic, stage to perform, and battle for ascendancy. As the the cars, trucks, bikes and quads roar away from the UAE capital on Sunday morning for the first of five stages across the spectacular Al Dhafra desert landscape, ADNOC Distribution will play a crucial role in fueling their journeys.
ADNOC Distribution’s Super 98 premium fuel, extracted and refined in the UAE, is specially designed to offer advanced care and efficiency in the most demanding environments.
My Station trucks will refuel rally contenders as they race across a route featuring competitive sections of 264km, 318km, 270km, 257km and 217km, with an overall length of 1,917km as Super 98 ensures engines are well equipped to handle the challenges faced as riders and drivers battle the elements in this tough event. As the UAE’s largest fuel and convenience retailer, ADNOC Distribution also supplies the jet fuel for the Search and Rescue helicopters which provide potentially life-saving aerial assistance to competitors in need of attention; in line with the company’s own continued HSE commitment.
The aircrafts supplied by Abu Dhabi Aviation are a vital part of the event, ensuring the operation runs safely, and securing prompt and accurate assistance even in the most remote corners of the Empty Quarter. With the rally’s fleet of aircrafts continuously sweeping the route, the strategic support from ADNOC Distribution is key to keeping them refueled. No matter how deep into the desert they need to go to provide medical assistance, they will have a refuelling point strategically positioned for the occasion.