Cross country racing is back again with the new UAE Desert Championship

Dubai, UAE, 13 October, 2013:  David Mabbs and Sean Gaugain are the early leaders of the newly launched 2013-14 UAE Desert Championship, as an entry list of more than 80 cars, bikes, buggys, and quads fought hard over 120kms of Dubai desert on the weekend in the Baja-style rally.

Contesting the cars and buggys category in the first of four rounds making up the 2013-14 series, Mabbs piloted a FJ Cruiser to victory, taking a commanding five minute, 35 second lead ahead of Emirati Ahmad Al Maqoodi, who currently lies in second place in a Polaris RZR XP.

In the bikes category, Gaugain outclassed a strong line-up of more than 50 riders on a Kawasaki 450 to finish two min 27 seconds ahead of fellow South African Mark Grams, while in the quads class, Dutch rider Sebastian Husseini leads Emiratis Mohammad Shamshi and Nasser Al Ali Abdullah.

Organised by the Emirates Motor Sport Federation with TAG Heuer Middle East the official timekeeper and founding partner, the 2013-14 UAE Desert Championship has been introduced to safeguard the future of rallying on a national basis.

Taking place with the full support of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), the championship is designed to capitalise on the UAE’s spectacular natural assets for the staging of cross country events.

“With more than 80 entries, the first round of the UAE Desert Championship has proven that there is huge backing among the local motorsport community to support this style of competitive event run in a natural environment,” said ATCUAE President Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

“The popularity of the championship will continue to grow, as it offers a fantastic opportunity to develop young talent, while also providing a new platform for existing competitors.”

The first round of the 2013-14 UAE Desert Championship was run on a short track rally with a marked route across the Al Yufrah 2 desert area south of Dubai. The 15km circuit was one of three event formats to be used for the championship.

Some rounds will consist of medium track events run over five laps of approximately 40kms each , while others will be long track events of around 200kms, both requiring the use of GPS for navigation.

The longer events will provide good preparation for those competitors contesting the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which marks its 24th edition next April as a round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. The next round of the UAE Desert Championship will take place on 15 November.