Stage 1 Results And Highlights – 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Some of the well-known athletes in the sport saw conflicting results, while many local participants easily tackled Stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge lives up to its reputation as one of the toughest and most visually spectacular rallies. On the first day, racers covered a total distance of 404 kilometres, including a Special Stage of 242 kilometres, from Ghiyathi City to Liwa, close to Tal Mor’eb. Some of the most well-known athletes in the sport saw conflicting results, while a number of local heroes tackled the stage by making excellent use of their knowledge and experience of the desert.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023 Stage 1 Highlights
Amongst the riders, there was no change in the race lead in Stage 1 with Quintanilla and Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda) winning the stage ahead of Ross Branch of Hero MotoSports. The riders who led the 1st stage were the fastest during the Prologue, and their plan to move up from eighth to first is already paying off.
Nasser Al Attiyah emerged victorious over the day’s special stage in T1 Cars, which resulted in increasing his lead at the end by more than six minutes ahead of Yazeed Al Rajhi who finished second. Henk Lategan, a non-championship driver, benefited from Prodrive’s troubles and achieved third place.
Now Nasser is ahead of his main rivals, Loeb and Chicherit, in the World Rally Raid Championship, as Sebastian Loeb stopped at PK38 and was unable to restart his car. After being picked up by his engineers, he will take a penalty, and start again tomorrow in an attempt to minimise the damage and Chicherit has decided to retire from the rally.
Stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will perhaps be seen as a turning point in Season 2 of the World Rally-Raid Championship. In the bikes category, the plans of the fastest riders in the Prologue went perfectly, but in the cars category, it was just the opposite.
Sebastian Loeb lost his chance to win the race by quitting the stage and is now trying to get back into a rhythm, he knows only too well. For the next four days, the Frenchman will have to earn as many daily points as he can to counterbalance Al Attiyah’s victory. Loeb had to do the same as recently as this January when he came out of the first round beaten by Al Attiyah, but still leading on points. Both the race and the championship are still on, and both are filled with many twists and turns.
Read our article on the Stage 2 of 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Championship.
T1 Stage 1 Winners
1. Nasser Al Attiyah – 3:13:36
2. Yazeed Al Rajhi – +6.05
3. Henk Lategan – +6.18
T3 Stage 1 Winners
1. Seth Quintero – 3:07:38
2. Austin Jones – +7.48
3. Joao Ferreira – +18:43
T4 Stage 1 Winners
1. Rocas Bakiuska – 3:37:40
2. Mansour Al Helei – +4.15
3. Pau Navarro – +5.20
RallyGP Stage 1 Winners
1. Pablo Quintanilla – 3:00:15
2. Adrien Van Beveren – +2’00
3. Ross Branch – +3’12
Rally2 Stage 1 Winners
1. Paolo Lucci – 3:14:07
2. Konrad Dabrowski – +5:01
3. Tobias Ebster – +6.57
Quad Stage 1 Winners
1. Abdulaziz Ahli – 3:52:17
2. Rodolfo Guillioli – +24.24
3. Laisvidas Kansius
A word from the Participants of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
T1 stage winner Nasser Al Attiyah said, “We pushed from the beginning without any problems, but I don’t really like my setup, so I will work on it for tomorrow. But okay, we’re doing OK, but there’s still a long way. We shave started well, and we’ll try to keep going like this. I’m happy to come to the ADDC, a lot of dunes and really good skills from everybody.”
Sebastian Loeb, nine-time World Rally Champion offered some insight into what the days ahead are really like for drivers. He said, “One of the main challenges is judging the height of the dunes and the speed of your approach as you head towards the crest. Compared to the challenges of racing on wet and muddy roads, in soft sand, you never totally lose the car because they don’t spin. But of course, the desert presents other serious challenges.”