Three-way battle for Emirati drivers in UAE Desert Championship

Sport360 staff 16:12 03/02/2014
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Record showing: Round Three attracted 96 competitors on two and four wheels.

Three Emirati drivers will battle for outright supremacy in the cars category of the UAE Desert Championship this month.

This year’s tight third round contest of the new national rally series attracted a record 96 competitors on two and four wheels over the weekend.

Although UAE’s Ahmed Al Maqoodi finished fourth in the penultimate round of the 2013-14 Baja-style rally, he still managed to reclaim his lead over Mansour Al Helei and Ahmed Al Fahim in the cars overall category.

However, it could still be anybody’s tournament at the inaugural championship as the final round returns in two weeks’ time.

Al Fahim won both the cars and buggies classes on the 18km loop of undulating desert terrain in his Polaris RZR, but still trails Al Maqoodi and Al Helei overall, while Al Helei’s second place in a Nissan Patrol means he is guaranteed the T2 class title.

Fellow Emirati, Mohammed Shamsi won the quads class on a Kawasaki 450 while pre-race favorite Sebastian Husseini failed to finish after running out of fuel.

The result means Shamsi leads the quad class outright and only needs to finish the final round to secure the overall title.

Meanwhile, the bikes class was dominated by UAE-based Sam Sunderland who led throughout on a Honda CRF 450.

Sunderland completed seven laps and succeeded easily with a margin of nine minutes over Sean Gaugain and Mohammed Al Balooshi.

Gaugain’s consistency, however, keeps him in the front-running to win the overall title in the bikes class. His second place follows one win and another second in the first two rounds of the UAE Desert Championship, meaning he will be hard to peg back in the final round.

Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE and Vice President of the FIA, spoke of the huge participation the championship is enjoying, saying: “The UAE Desert Championship continues to grow from strength to strength, with every round attracting more entries than the previous.

“Last weekend’s record number of entries highlights the increasing popularity of the series and vindicates the decision to launch such a championship that supports desert rallying on a local and grass-roots level. We are confident that the final round will attract more than 100 entries, capping off a hugely successful inaugural edition,” he added.

The fourth and final round of the UAE Desert Championship, which provides a natural link into April’s latest edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, takes place on14 February, with the location to be confirmed soon.

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