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Stage 4 Results And Highlights – 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Started with a foggy morning, Day 4 took unexpected turns as many participants had to quit the rally in Stage 4 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

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The start of Day 4 was all fogged up for the participants of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Cars had to start late because of less visibility due to the fog. The Al Futtaim Toyota Stage 4, which was supposed to have one of the longest special stages of the race at 308 kilometres, had to be concluded in 173 kilometres for the cars. But the bikes had to cover the full distance of 458 kilometres as they started on time.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023 Stage 4 Highlights

Stage 4 of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge began with a delay this morning at Madinat Zayed and travelled through valleys and ridges before reaching the E15 underpass. It also included several difficult climbs and highly demanding dune ranges. The route included a quick desert stretch and passed through a challenging dune section before reaching the Arada Fort Refuel station. Then, it went across the E90 and through the Liwa Valleys to the southern end of the Khis Gatch and finally concluded at the finish line in Qasr environmental area.

Despite all the fog in the morning, the weather was hot. But as the drivers and riders started out in the sweltering and technically challenging terrain, they met with a rather unusually threatening afternoon downpour.

Nasser Al-Attiyah had to quit the race after his crash badly damaged the roll cage of his car yesterday in Stage 3. He was leading the T1 category for the last three stages. Despite the troubles he faced earlier, Sebastian Loeb once again showed his determination to score points by winning the stage. Yazeed Al Rahji, who finished second in stage 3, got third place today but still leads in the overall ranking, while Henk Lategan took second place and Martin Prokop the only former champion still running for a win finished fourth.

In T3, Mattias Ekström took the stage win and finished ahead of Seth Quintero, while Joao Ferreira secured the third position. However, Quintero maintained his lead in the overall standings, being followed closely by another Red Bull driver Austin Jonbes.

In T4, local hero Emirati Mansour Al Helei of the Abu Dhabi Team conquered the stage again with reigning world champion Rokas Baciuska trailing behind him in second place. Baciuska leads the overall classification while Al Helei, who took a 15-minute penalty, is in second.

In the RallyGP category, Pablo Quintanilla who stood in first place in stage 1 and second in stage 3, retired from the race, While Luciano Benavides finished first and stands second in the overall rankings. Adrien Van Beveren maintained his commanding lead in the category.

In the bike RallyGP category,  Luciano Benavides took first place ahead of the overall ranking leader Van Beveren in second and Hero MotoCorp’s Ross Branch in third. Pablo Quintanilla failed to finish the stage due to some technical problems with his bike.

In Rally2, Jean-Luc Lepan secured first place followed by Toni Mulec and Tobias Ebster. Paolo Lucci, who leads the overall ranking, also suffered a breakdown and had to stop for half an hour, at just 20 km before the finish line. unlike Quintanilla, Lucci can start the race again tomorrow. 

No big surprises in the Quad Bike category as the stage winner Abdulaziz Ahli still dominates the overall classification ahead of Kancius in second and Adomas Gancierius in third.

At the end of the second round of the World Rally-Raid Championship on Friday, Sébastien Loeb is expected to earn nine championship points for finishing in the top five. If he performs well tomorrow, he could earn an additional five points, increasing his total score to 14. However, reaching the finish line won’t be easy as the ADDC has proven that unexpected events can happen to even the best drivers.

For the bikes, the Top 7 contenders have a gap of fewer than 9 minutes between them. For the FIM riders, Adrien Van Beveren has held on to the top spot in the overall standings for the last three days, but there is still a possibility for the rankings to change tomorrow as ADDC has proven to be an unexpected race.

T1 Stage 4 Winners

1. Sebastian Loeb – 02:28:10

2. Henk Lategan – +06:59

3. Yazeed Al Rahji – +09:09

T3 Stage 4 Winners

1. Mattias Ekstrom – 02:34:58

2. Seth Quintero – +01:57

3. Joao Ferreira – +02:57

T4 Stage 4 Winners

1. Mansour Al Helei – 02:36:48

2. Rocas Baciuska – +03:31

3. Pau Navarro – +08:57

RallyGP Stage 4 Winners

1. Luciano Benavides – 03:47:08

2. Adrien Van Beveren – +03:22

3. Ross Branch – +04:06

Rally2 Stage 4 Winners

1. Jean-Luc Lepan – 04:09:58

2. Toni Mulec – +05:29

3. Tobias Ebster – +08:37

Quad Stage 4

1. Abdulaziz Ahli – 04:52:48

2. Laisvydas Kansius – +16:55

3. Adomas Gancierius – +35:23

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

At the finish line, Sébastien Loeb said, “It’s great to be winning again and on top of the results so thank you to the team for the hard work they’ve done. We had one big landing that was a big hit so it proved you can get caught, but the car took it and we’re back at the bivouac all together. For the championship, today brings more points but we must finish tomorrow to get those points when we return to Abu Dhabi.”

Adrien Van Beveren pushed all the way and loved it. He said, “I started this morning with the idea of going fast and I tried to improve my overall time. So I pushed it all out. It was a bit hot and I enjoyed the ride today.”

Luciano Benavides is ready for Stage 5 and said, “It was another nice stage for me. I pushed all day and gave 100 per cent, so to win again is a really nice feeling. Tomorrow will be the last big push and I am ready for that.”

A word from the Officials

H.E. Khalid Ben Sulayem, President of Emirates Motor Sports Organisation (EMSO) commented, “Yesterday once again provided a lot of drama, including, sadly, the car damage that saw Nasser Al Attiyah having to withdraw from the race. Thankfully he and his co-driver are fine. Today, with the start delayed by fog and shortened to 173 kilometres for the cars, the course nevertheless provided another major challenge as the drivers and riders were then obliged to deal with much more intense heat due to starting later in the day. Thanks to the generosity and hospitality of the His Highness Sheikh Hamadan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative Court of the Al Dhafra Region, the organisation and coordination of this complex and challenging event is exemplary. Alongside that, the seamless coordination and hard work of the police, and the search and rescue continues to ensure that the 32nd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is a triumph of sporting excellence.”

Paul Willis, CEO of Al-Futtaim Automotive, visited the bivouac and said, “It’s great to be here and look at our products in the toughest environment in the world. Awe-inspiring, in fact, and it really shows that the engineering that sits behind these vehicles makes them wonderful products for our customers. Our manufacturing partners learn a lot over this week about how to improve their vehicles, and I extend my sincerest thanks to EMSO and the Al Dhafra authorities for making it all possible.” (Al Futtaim Toyota is the official provider of service cars that are used by over 200 officials during the race.)

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