Twelve of the UAE’s most prominent desert dune buggy drivers descended on Aljada near Sharjah at the weekend for a chance of victory at the first edition of Red Bull Torque.
It was Rashed Mohammad Al Dhaheri who emerged victorious on the day, bagging first place with a fastest lap of 01:38.370.
Second place Seif Mohammad Al Oteibah was narrowly pipped to top spot with a fastest lap of 01:38.820 - a difference of 450 milliseconds between the two finalists.
Meanwhile, Nasser Al Hai and Seif Saeed Al Dhaheri rounded up third and fourth place respectively.
The competition – also the first of its kind to be hosted exclusively for purpose-built buggies in the Middle East – put contestants through their paces as they took on a challenging, 120-metre course.
And while the drivers no doubt have phenomenal skills, Red Bull Torque’s course requires that they control their vehicle’s power in order not to touch barriers or obstacles, incurring penalties in the process.
In this elimination-style race, the twelve contestants were drawn at random to go head-to-head as pairs.
For every race, two buggies started from opposite sides of the track, with each driver aiming to cross the finish line with the fastest lap.
Bonus points were awarded for skills and creativity, including wheelies performed, car design and that all-important engine sound.
The XDubai Spartan Women’s Sprint, the first ladies-only Spartan race in the Middle East, was held at the Jebel Ali Race Course on Saturday.
Organised by Spartan Arabia, in cooperation with Dubai Sports Council, the Sprint race attracted more than 1,000 participants.
“We are delighted with the participation of so many ladies, of different nationalities and age group, especially Emiratis,” said Julia Al Jenabi, the marketing manager of Spartan Arabia.
“This huge turnout will certainly act as an encouragement for us to organise more such events for ladies, thus providing them with an opportunity to showcase their talent and encourage them to embrace physical activity.
“We have made a promising start and moving forward, we will be looking to organise many more successful events like this.”
The Dane will face a familiar foe in Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) in Sunday’s final, as the four-time champion from Malaysia bids for his first title in Dubai.
Axelsen stamped his authority from the early stages, showing greater intent than he had during his loss in the group match to Shi.
“It was a new day. Unfortunately it seems like he suffered a bit,” said Axelsen. “I’m happy with the way I played. I felt a little bit (strain) in my back at the end of the second game, but it’s okay now.
“I accepted that I might not be 120 percent. I’ve been in the final three times now, I hope I can make it two wins. I’m happy to be here, it’s an awesome place, and I’m enjoying it.”
Lee Chong Wei had blown a commanding lead against Son Wan Ho on Friday in their group clash but the Malaysian did not give his opponent an inch in their last four clash.
It proved to be a one-sided contest as Lee completed proceedings in 49 minutes at 21-17, 21-11.
Meanwhile, the women’s singles final will see crowd favourite Pusarla V Sindhu of India take on Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi’s in-the-trenches resolve saw her beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 17-21, 21-12, 21-19 in an enthralling semi-final encounter to make her first Dubai final.
Pusarla had her hands full against Chen Yufei who was always in the right place at the right time.
It was the Indian who had to do all the hard work, but the progress was incremental – Pusarla stitching up a lead, only to see Chen pulling close.
At a game and 15-11, the Indian had found momentum, but Chen was tenacious, and with every rally, Pusarla started to flag under the pace.
A 57-shot rally found Pusarla bent over, with Chen narrowing the lead to 17-19; but the Chinese teen showed her inexperience and faltered on the last couple of points to enable the Indian to slip away at 21-15 21-18.
“It was a good quality match, even though it was over in straight games, there were a lot of long rallies. I’m happy to be the first Indian in the Women’s Singles final here; I would like to become the first Indian to win the title as well!”