The UAE’s Mohammed Balooshi was pleased by how well he performed with his new bike in the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Sunday.
The Emirati, competing on his new KTM 450 Rally Replica for the first time, began the day in 29th position and 10th in the overall classification. But a solid drive of 3 hrs, 56 minutes and 56 seconds, saw him occupy seventh place at the end of day one.
It was a strong show by Balooshi, whose last competitive appearance was the Oilibya Rally in Morocco in early October.
“It was a nice stage even though day one of the race is always almost a warm up,” he said. “Today I had the chance to push a bit and I felt very comfortable with the new bike. “My team always keeps working on finding the best setup to suit my riding and this bike is slightly more competitive than the one we used last year and I’m confident we will have a good race and a great season ahead of us.
“I thought I would make more mistakes in the first stage and also thought that it would take me longer to get used to this new KTM Rally Replica. But I’m quite happy with the progress I have made. I am looking forward to the next three stages as we keep sweeping in the desert.
“Our desert is the most beautiful in the world and at the same time this race can be the most challenging and demanding of them all.”
He added: “I am one of the very few Emirati competitors. And I hope to be able to make my people and my team proud with a good result. I’ll put all my effort and focus on it.”
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