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Stage 2 Results And Highlights – 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

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This year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge continues to become more and more interesting every day. After a thrilling Day 1, Day 2’s ADNOC Distribution stage has much to live up to, with Monday potentially being a turning point in the championship. Stage 2 of the ADDC started at Madinat Zayed and finished on Um Al Zumoul Road, the participants had to cover a total distance of 365 kilometres including a Special Stage of 257 kilometres and 108 kilometres of tarmac sections.

After his car’s mechanical issue at PK 38 on stage one, Sebastian Loeb started the day in 11th place, while Guerlain Chicherit had to leave the event because of severe motion sickness.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023 Stage 2 Highlights

Stage two of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge saw more action. As the stage started from the north of Liwa City and headed Southwest running through valleys and ridges. As they made their way towards the PC at the Ghiyathi Road underpass, the drivers and riders had to face occasional climbs mixed with dramatic descents on their way. Then they moved into more challenging terrain, where they encountered numerous extremely technical passes and faced difficulty to find the course through the dunes and sand structures. The stage consisted of 47 per cent dunes, 40 per cent sand, 10 per cent dry lake bed, and 3 per cent tarmac and ended relatively close to the rally bivouac in Qasr Al Sarab.

In the T1 category, Henk Lategan, who stopped repeatedly at the beginning of the Special Stage, turned back towards the bivouac because of a faulty turbo sensor, while yesterday’s winner Nasser Al Attiyah registered another stage win, followed by Yazeed Al Rajhi in second. In T3, Mattias Ekström, who ran out of fuel yesterday and had to withdraw from the First Stage, conquered the Second Stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. In T4 local hero Mansour Al Helei took 1st place.

In the bike RallyGP category, factory rider Luciano Benavides wins the 2nd Stage, while Stage 1 winner Pablo Quintanilla dropped to 9th place. Benavides’ victory propels him onto third place overall, while Quintanilla’s ninth-place finish keeps him in second, with Van Beveren on the top. The competition for a podium spot in the category is tight, with Cornejo, Toby Price, Ross Branch, and Howes all in the running.

Today’s ADNOC Distribution Stage was the first part of the event’s Marathon stage for the Moto category (bikes and quads). In this stage, there is no mechanical support or spare parts allowed other than the ones carried by the rider himself, In addition, the riders must spend the night in Parc Ferme, which prevents them from servicing their equipment until the finish of the next stage.

From a World Rally-Raid Championship perspective, the second stage of the race saw the HRC bikes at the front of the overall standings. Out of the top seven, four were Hondas with VBA and Quintanilla in the first two places and Cornejo in 4th, while Brabec in 7th, is only 5 minutes behind the leader. So, nothing is decided in the bikes category even if Honda leads the race early on.

On the other hand, in the cars category, Nasser Al Attiyah from Toyota Gazoo Racing is dominating the Rally and has significantly increased his chances to lift the trophy for the 4th time in the ADDC. The Qatari driver won the stage as well as the 5 stage winner points that go with it. But Loeb, who earned 4 points for second place, would keep pushing as usual to counterbalance Al Attiyah’s points.

Read our article on the Stage 3 of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

T1 Stage 2 Winners

1. Nasser Al Attiyah – 3:33:39

2. Yazeed Al Rajhi – +12:14

3. Martin Prokop – +14:55

T3 Stage 2 Winners

1. Mattias Ekstrom – 03:52:09

2. Seth Quintero – +02:41

3. Austin Jones – +04:34

T4 Stage 2 Winners

1. Mansour Al Helei – 03.58.22

2. Rocas Baciuska – +05.47

3. Pau Navarro – +09.44

RallyGP Stage 2 Winners

1. Luciano Benavides – 03:24:50

2. Nacho Cornejo – +01.17

3. Skyler Howes – + 01.44

Rally2 Stage 2 Winners

1. Paolo Lucci – 3:35:06

2. Tobias Ebster – +08:23

3. Jean-Luc Lepan – +13:22

Quad Stage 2 Winners

1. Laisvydas Kansius – 04:21:45

2. Abdulaziz Ahli  – +01:55

3. Rodolfo Guillioli – +32:12

A word from the Participants of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

T1 winner Nasser Al Attiyah said, “Today was a very difficult stage. Some parts of the track were really tough to navigate, we had two big impacts and my shoulder is not 100 per cent. But I am happy because we have finished and I am ready for tomorrow’s challenge.”

Rally GP winner Luciano Benavides said, “Of course, to win another stage is something really special, but the last week has been really tough for me with Kevin’s accident plus hard training sessions, and many ups and downs. So to finally get another win and get my confidence back is something really nice. And this one is for Kevin!” (Kevin Benavides, Luciano’s brother, was injured ahead of the event while training)

Monster Energy Honda Team’s Pablo Quintanilla, Stage 1’s winner, finished ninth, at 6’.55” behind Benavides. He said, “I faced troubles in the morning, so I navigated very carefully. Other top riders were up for the challenge, but overall I did well and there were no issues with the bike. The day felt very long, and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge.”

A word from the Officials

Bader Saeed Al Lamki, CEO of ADNOC Distribution said, ”Today’s ADNOC Distribution stage is one of the most demanding. The challenges that the competitors are facing are extreme, and supporting their performance is a role that we gladly accept, and complements our strategy of being at the heart of all our customers’ journeys and meeting their evolving energy needs. To be a part of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and to have the opportunity again to showcase our commitment to sporting excellence, reinforces both our own and Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a global hub for motorsport.”

H.E. Khalid Ben Sulayem, President and board member of Emirates Motor Sports Organisation (EMSO) commented, “Both stages could not have been more spectacular and have lived up to our highest expectations. The competitors are having to deal with nature at its most extreme, and I send my respects to all of them. I would also like to give my humble thanks to all involved for creating a sporting spectacle that is the equal of any major event in the world.”

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