The Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and Nissan Middle East have announced a new partnership agreement for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, underlining a dual commitment to ensure the event continues to stand out on the world stage.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE and founder of the event, and Samir Cherfan, Managing Director of Nissan Middle East, signed the agreement today and revealed the new branding for the rally that runs from 5-10 April.
The 2014 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge sees the Nissan Patrol, “Hero of All terrain in Life”, installed for an 11th year as the official vehicle of the event, which forms the third round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
“Nissan has become an invaluable partner in our work to promote and develop the Desert Challenge, and I’m pleased to extend this relationship again as we look to secure the event’s future for many years ahead,” said Sulayem, the FIA Vice President. “Nissan Middle East shares our enthusiasm for the Desert Challenge, as well as our commitment to its long-term success, and I’m confident this partnership will guarantee that the event continues to set the standard in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.”
Cherfan said: “Nissan has been sponsoring the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for the past 10 years, and for the 11th year we are taking our partnership to the next level by co-sponsoring the event.
“We are delighted to be a major actor of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, powered by Nissan, since it is one the most prominent desert rallies in the world and gives us the opportunity to reinforce our strong heritage in the Middle East.”
Taking place under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is also the first round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes and quads.
Once again, the Nissan Patrol has played a crucial role in the planning and staging of the event. For the 11th year in succession, Nissan Patrols have carried the route planning team deep into the UAE’s Western Region of Al Garbia, crossing a sea of giant dunes to carve out the competitive stages which will test competitors and their rally machinery to the limit next month.
As in previous years, the Nissan Patrol Stage on the fourth leg, 9 April, will be arguably the rally’s toughest, stretching across some 239 kms of the most testing rallying terrain available.
More than 100 drivers and riders from around the world will tackle the 24th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. With entries still arriving daily the final starting list is certain to include Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk, who lead the FIA World Cup series after winning the first two rounds in Russia and Italy.
The event gets under way on 5 April with a super special spectator stage on Yas Island, which is also the finishing point for the rally on 10 April following five days of cross country rallying at its best.
Emirati racing prodigy Rashid Al Dhaheri continued his brilliant form with a promising display as he scored a hat-trick of wins in the Bambino in the O-Plate Challenge at the Dubai Kartdrome on Friday.
The five year old, who is no stranger to podium finishes, outpaced his closest opponent by more than two seconds to win the Championship.
The youngster faced a tough challenge with the windy and slippery conditions on the weekend, but managed to keep his distance from other competitors until the finish line in all three sessions of the race.
As the day progressed Al Dhaheri kept getting faster, with his best time in the first Time Trial calculated at 1:21.715.
An hour later, in Time Trial 2 he completed the course in 1:18.971 which was nearly three seconds faster than the next best, and in the final Time Trial he recorded the a best lap of 1:17.867.
With three wins on the day he did enough to take home the winner’s trophy adding the Dubai Kartdrome Bambino O-Plate Championship title to his portfolio as he extended his winning streak in Dubai to five wins out of five races.
Al Dhaheri has enjoyed a glittering debut performance in the UAE karting season following his intensive training sessions in Italy last year. He returned to the Emirates in hopes to begin his racing career starting at the UAE Rotax Max Challenge Series in Al Ain where he finished in the top three.
Al Dhaheri went on to achieve numerous podium triumphs at different venues, in the Al Ain Raceway, Dubai Autodrome and the iconic Yas Marina track despite being one of the youngest racers in his category.
Next in store for little Alonso is a trip to Italy to further expand his experience in the sport. He has already taken the first strides towards his dream and will be preparing to take the big leap as soon as he turns six next month.
Speaking at the end of the race, Al Dhaheri’s father Ali Al Dhaheri said: “Rashid showed composure and a focused mind, to tackle the challenging conditions. With this performance, Rashid ends the season with many victories in spite of being amongst the youngest drivers competing in the UAE Bambino class.”
Al Dhaheri will be participating in the Italian Championship season which begins on 27 April.
The Board of Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management has announced that Mr Al Tareq Al Ameri has been officially appointed Chief Executive Officer of Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE National previously ran the commercial division at the Circuit and will now take forward the business as a whole.
Mr Al Ameri was part of the team who have, in the last five years, developed Yas Marina Circuit into not only one of the world’s most iconic motorsport venues, but also a dynamic community hub for thousands of residents of Abu Dhabi, as well as a venue for significant global gatherings.
Every month, Yas Marina Circuit welcomes an average of 25,000 people who take part in a range of activities, including go karting and track cycling nights to healthy lifestyle programs and special events.
Yas Marina Circuit Chairman, HE Khaldoon Al Mubarak, said: “With the success of the past five years as a catalyst, I look forward to Al Tareq leading the further growth of this business, which encompasses both meaningful social engagement and sustainable commercial outcomes.”
Mr Al Ameri began the handover from departing CEO Richard Cregan at the start of the year and is determined to build on the strong foundations of the last five years. Richard Cregan will retain an advisory role at Yas Marina Circuit reporting to the Board, and will now lead the F1 Russian Grand Prix.
From hosting incredible F1 weekends that have set new standards in the world of motorsport to the launch of a full calendar of community events, Yas Marina Circuit is now a market leader.
Mr Al Ameri, 34, said: “Since coming to Yas Marina Circuit to lead the commercial division I have been bitten by the motorsport bug – and that will always be our core business.
“The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is an iconic fixture on the F1 calendar and that alone is a truly fantastic achievement for everyone involved.
“The Grand Prix will always be the focus but we must keep driving forward what we do throughout the year – from exciting motorsport racing to bringing even more fantastic events to the circuit.
“In 2011 and 2013 we hosted the World Economic Forum which shows we are so much more than just a racetrack. That strategy will continue and we will be fighting for business in the market.”
Prior to taking the role as Commercial Director at Yas Marina Circuit in October 2012, Mr Al Ameri’s career developed at Abu Dhabi Aviation.
He added: “Yas Marina Circuit is truly passionate about motorsport – here in the UAE, in the region and globally.
“I understand that passion and I am also ready for the challenge and responsibility of developing all areas of the business.”