Ahmad Al Fahim is celebrating a double success at the end of the inaugural UAE Desert Championship, while fellow Emirati Mohammed Shamsi and Dubai-based South African Sean Gaugain are the other big winners in the new national Baja rally series.
Victory in the fourth and final round of the 2013-14 championship at the wheel of his Polariz RZR saw Al Fahim squeeze ahead of Ahmad Al Maqoodi, who finished second on the day, to clinch the overall cars and buggies titles.
The battle for the quads crown was just as fiercely contested, with Shamsi taking second place on the day behind Colin Mercer but still beating him by seven points to emerge as champion, with three out of four rounds counting toward the final standings.
Coming under pressure in the bikes title chase from Sam Sunderland, who won his first stage in the Dakar Rally last month, Gaugain held on to take the championship by three points from the Dubai-based English rider, despite being beating by him into second place on the day.
Organised by the Emirates Motor Sport Federation, with TAG Heuer Middle East as the official timekeeper and founding partner, the UAE Desert Championship was run with the support of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the national motor sport authority.
The new series provides a natural link into to the Abu Dhabi Desert challenge, the UAE’s round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars, and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship for bikes, which runs for the 24th time from 3-10 April.
ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “I’m very happy with the quality and quantity of entries we’ve had in the inaugural UAE Desert Championship.
“We’ve mixed everything together – the cars, buggies, bikes and quads – so it’s a miniature Desert Challenge. We’ve had great support from all the drivers and riders and I want to thank them for that. This is a good start, and we want to grow the Desert Championship next year.”
Double champion Al Fahim said: “This is a good preparation for the Desert Challenge. We really enjoy these type of rallies. It’s a really good environment and the safety factory is very high.”
Sunderland, who finished the series with successive victories, said: “The championship is awesome. It’s really good to promote the sport in the UAE. It’s been a great first series and I’m really happy to have won the last two rounds.”
FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1. Ahmed Al Fahim (Polaris RZR) – 70pts
2. Ahmad Al Maqoodi (Polaris RZR XP) – 66
3. Mansoor Al Helei (Nissan Patrol) – 58
4. Khalid Al Jafla (Polaris 2012 XP) – 45
5. Michael Ziegler (Toyota Landcruiser) – 36
6. Ian Barker (Nissan Patrol) – 34
1. Ahmed Al Fahim (Polaris RZR) – 70
2. Ahmad Al Maqoodi (Polaris RZR XP) – 69
3. Khalid Al Jafla (Polaris 2012 XP) – 45
4. Janne Tuohino (Powertec Storm) – 18
5. Michel Fadel (Polaris XP900) – 15
1. Sean Gaugain (Kawasaki KXF450) – 69pts
2. Sam Sunderland (Honda CRF 450) – 66
3. Mark Grams (Honda CR250R) – 58
4. Joshua Brodalka (Yamaha YZ) – 48
5. Rashed Abdullah (Honda CRF450) – 44
6. Ross Runnalls (Kawasaki KX450F) – 41
1. Mohammed Shamsi (Kawasaki 450) – 72
2. Colin Mercer (Honda TRX700) – 65
3. Humaid Al Mashghouni (Yamaha Raptor) – 56
4. Patrick Gersch (Yamaha Raptor) – 51
5. Sebastian Husseini (Honda TRX700xx) – 47
6. Colin Wilken (Yamaha Raptor) – 42
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