Abu Dhabi Baja to boost UAE Desert Rally series - GulfToday

Abu Dhabi Baja to boost UAE Desert Rally series

Abu Dhabi Baja to boost UAE Desert Rally series

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, who leads the T1 category after winning three of the first four rounds, is among favourites for overall cars victory.

The launch of the Abu Dhabi Baja next month provides a fresh boost for desert rallying in the UAE, creating a flagship event for the new national series attracting drivers and riders from across the Middle East.

Supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the event forms the fifth round of the 2019 UAE Baja Championship which is organised by the Emirates Motorsport Club (EMC) and is currently half way through its debut season.

Taking place in the Liwa desert on Nov.15-16 over a route cutting into the dramatic dunes of the Rub Al Khali, the Abu Dhabi Baja joins a championship which has emerged from a series of candidate events run last year by the EMC.

The championship has consistently attracted upwards of 50 car, buggy, bike and quad competitors over this year’s first four rounds. The offer of prize money in all categories in Abu Dhabi is expected to help build a much bigger entry list from across the region.

“We’re very pleased and encouraged by the response to the championship so far in its season,” said Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, Founder and President of the EMC. “We want the Abu Dhabi Baja to take it to another level, securing the future of rallying which is where UAE motor sport originated.”

“We’re grateful to the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for their support and look forward to welcoming competitors from the Gulf countries and beyond.”

Based at a desert bivouac at Moreeb Hill, the Abu Dhabi Baja will feature two special stages adding up to 250km in a route totalling 280km in length including liaisons.

Documentation and scrutineering takes place on Nov.15 between 7-10am. The first special stage gets underway at 11am, with stage two starting at 8am the following day and the event concluding with prize giving at 4pm.

The arrival of the Abu Dhabi Baja adds to the championship’s status as a series uniting the Emirates, with the first four rounds already hosted by Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai, and another to follow in Fujairah on Dec.13.

The pre-event favourite for overall cars victory in Abu Dhabi will be top Emirati driver Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi who leads the T1 category after winning three of the first four rounds.

A tense battle continues in the bikes 450 class where just two points separate the top three, Mohammed Jafar, 2018 FIM Bajas World Cup champion Mohammed Al Balooshi and Dave McBride.

The championship format also includes T2, Group S and UTV auto classes as well as Motos 250 and quad categories, all of which are expected to be keenly contested in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Baja.

Meanwhile, after a break of over six weeks since the last Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup race at Monza, the series concludes with a double-header in Mexico City this weekend.

Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair has enjoyed his most successful season to date, winning a second successive Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title before finishing inside the top 10 on several occasions on his way to 12th position thus far in the 2019 Drivers’ Championship.

The BWT Lechner Racing Team driver missed the Mexican races last season to concentrate on his preparations for a regional racing programme. Before setting off for North America, he said: “The Super Cup is coming to a close and we have one more round in Mexico with two races. It will certainly be interesting. I’m looking forward to it because it is a track I like.

“ Hopefully I can deliver a strong performance and finish off with some points. Then we will announce what we will be doing in the future,” he added.

While Zubair looks to finish the season on a high note, his team-mate and defending champion Michael Ammermuller will be looking to seal the title yet again.

He arrives in the hustle and bustle of Mexico City defending a 14-point lead over Dutchman Larry Ten Voorde after Frenchman Julien Andlauer failed to finish the Monza race and slipped 18 points behind his German title rival. Turkey’s Ayhancan Guven is four points further behind in fourth place and Florian Latorre rounds off the top five.

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