UAE: Dubai based Dakar Champ Sam Sunderland aims for maiden win in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

UAE: Dubai based Dakar Champ Sam Sunderland aims for maiden win in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Sam Sunderland on a charge on his factory KTM

Abu Dhabi (UAE) –Tuesday, March 28th 2017: Less than two and a half months ago, Dubai-based Briton Sam Sunderland delivered one of the greatest performances ever seen by an English rider to win the gruelling Dakar Rally at only his third attempt.

The KTM rider had recovered from a serious injury sustained in Morocco – that forced him to miss the event the previous year – and grew in confidence and strength as the season progressed. When the defending champion and Sunderland’s team-mate Toby Price fell in Bolivia and broke his femur, and the Monster Energy Honda Team made a costly servicing error, the dice was thrown in Sunderland’s favour and he held on to take a famous win in Buenos Aires.

Life has changed considerably for the modest rider who spends his time in Dubai between races, but he heads into next week’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge POWERED BY NISSAN knowing that victory is within his grasp, as he hopes to kick-start his FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship bid with a win.

The event gets underway with a super special stage at the Al-Forsan International Sports Resort on April 1 and runs through the deserts of the Rub Al-Khali until April 6.

Sunderland has the talented Austrian Matthias Walkner and Frenchman Antoine Meo as his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mates over the twisting sand trails and towering dunes that make the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge so unique.

With the exception of 2014 – when the win fell to Honda’s Paolo Gonçalves – KTM has won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge every year since 2001. The odds are stacked in the team’s favour again with the strength of Sunderland, Walkner and Meo and support from local rider Mohammed A-Balooshi on his Ride to Abu Dhabi Team KTM and Vendetta Racing’s David McBride. Meo returns to desert action for the first time since his nasty fall at the 2016 Dakar.

But Husqvarna would love to stop KTM in their sand tracks. Pablo Quintanilla relied on consistent finishes to win last year’s FIM world title on his Rockstar Energy 450 Rally and the Chilean starts as the top seed as a result of that title success. He is also part of a two-man team alongside the consistent Frenchman and multiple FIM Motocross and Enduro World Champion Pierre Alexandre Renet.

The Monster Energy Honda Team split its resources at the start of the season and American Ricky Brabec clinched victory in Mexico’s Sonora Rally last weekend against a strong field. Management have given the task of pushing for the Abu Dhabi win to Gonçalves and the Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides, as star rider Joan Barreda Bort recovers from injury.

Twenty-eight motorcycles and 17 quads grace the entry list for the ATCUAE’s flagship off-road classic and numerous local riders are in the hunt for success. Abdulla Dakhan and Khalid Al-Falaisi wheel out their respective Yamaha and Honda and Ibrahim Bugla also has a Honda on the entry, while Kuwait’s Mohammed Jaffar wheels out a KTM factory replica 450.

“We have a very strong motorcycle club in the UAE and enduro and cross-country rallying are very popular,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, rally founder and President of the ATCUAE. “Sam Sunderland’s Dakar win was a major boost for the sport as a whole in the region and has attracted a lot of interest around the world. He has been a supporter of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for several years, but we have a strong field of factory riders this year and the battle will be fascinating on two wheels.”

Meanwhile, as officials at the ATCUAE make their final preparations for the start, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is also benefiting from support from waste disposal firm Tadweer.

Mohsen Al Ameri, Manager of Tadweer in the Western Region, said: “Our participation as a strategic sponsor at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2017 in the Al-Dhafra Region comes in line with our commitment to provide a sustainable and healthy environment across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Our supervisors, workers, vehicles will be available 24 hours a day to remove the waste from the rally site.”

“Taking part in such events comes in accordance with our vision to develop a leading sustainable and integrated waste management and pest control system by 2030. We strive to deploy the best technological solutions that help in boosting environmental sustainability and customer care excellence and fostering a conscious society that turns waste to an economic resource.”

ADDC officials also received news late last week that the American driver Bryce Menzies would not be able to take part in the event with the official X-raid Team at the helm of a Mini All4 Racing in the car category. According to the German’s team spokesman Tobias Quandt, the Stateside champion is still recovering from injury.

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge takes place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler’s representative in Al-Dafra region, and has invaluable support from Al Dafrah Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality, the UAE Army, Abu Dhabi Police, National Ambulance Service, Yas Marina Circuit, ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al-Ain Water, Abu Dhabi Waste Management, Rotana and Centro Hotel – Yas Island, the Qasr Al-Sarab Resort and Al-Forsan Circuit.

 

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8 hrs ago

F1

That Alex Albon is so cheeky 😂 ... See Less

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Omg! I love this duo so much! Never fail to make me laugh 😂

Actually I don't Like Alex' sense of humor :/ he is imo too arrogant

Is it just me or does anybody else wanna punch max in the fuckin face as hard as u could??

Why in the hell did Merc haven't done Grill the Grid?

If he think that one is bad i wonder what he think of the rookie of the year one ! 👀

Alex very honest! I like that

Congratulations

Did he say Sonny Moore at 0:28?

Congrats 😎

Nikko Par

Alex Albon 💙

Sarah Jones

Ricardo Ruiz

While you patiently waiting for your monthly salary, others are busy earning nothing less than $500- $10000 every 48hours, Ask me how????

Celine Maddie

Traduscalon a español

Rahul Kale Nuaman Wt

Max might be fast but his funny level is pretty low.

"It looks Romanian" hahaha good knowledge of flags Alex!

Who win this in 2018 please?

Being a Romanian, I’m surprise that Albon know the Romania 🇷🇴 flag ☺️. Wow.

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9 hrs ago

F1

Hang in there... fewer than 💯 days until the next race 😅 ... See Less

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Man weekends are so boring at the moment. Drive to survive needs to come out sooner than March to help this out

It was fun back in the days when we had the V8 .. It was a joy to watch the replays but now I can't stand watching any reply of this era even if it was a perfect move or something really special Please give us some noise .. I want my ears to hurt again 😅

And if Sebastian and Max have been good Saint Nic may bring them a fast car for 2020.

Odotetaan jannityksella odotus aika tuntuu pitkalta vai mita . ?? 🌲🌨🎅🎅Hyvaa joulua seka vuoden loppua . 🥂❤️❤️🍀🍀.

Super cross holds me over quite well until F1 starts back up.

It's gonna be a long winter.

It’s worse when you put it that way! 100 days...omg....nooooooooooooo!

90 days, 4 hours, 9 minutes and 30 sec to be precise...

Now that F1 has been over.

Waiting on the season to start

if V12 days yes we aka fans are eager for new seasons race but not now sadly..

With me in the competition.. Your gonna.. WIN.. 🏆❤💋

We are ready 💜😏

I know it’s not F1, but urge everyone to get on to the Bathurst 12 hour stream, starting October 21st. A real motor race with overtaking. It might get you through to the start of the next F1 season. www.bathurst12hour.com.au/news/2020-liqui-moly-bathurst-12-hour-date-confirmed/

Hang in there Tom, it’ll be back soon!!

Racing denotes some sort of competition is involved.

Can't wait!

It's not that long.

Waiting for this.. 👍🏻 👍🏻 👏🏻 🏁🏁🏎️🏎️👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Non vediamo l'ora che comincia grand premio, speriamo che sia spettacolare come finale 2019...

100 days never seemed longer

Race ever day.

اعطونا رزنامت الموسم القادم

Can’t wait 😆

Can't wait.

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10 hrs ago

F1

🥁 And the winner is... (as voted by F1 fans) ... See Less

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Funny how fans were whingeing about the state of F1 in early 2019, saying it's boring and a procession...Soon as they said that, boom! We have a season on our hands. A season to enjoy, with some of the best overtakes I've ever seen, in my 34 full years of F1 watching! Wow!

I'm surprised that Leclercs move on Gasly at Silverstone isn't included in this list. I don't think I've ever seen an overtake around the outside of Village. Pretty impressive, as far as I am concerned.

Would you look at that F1, the FIAs "Action of the Year" nowhere to be seen as anyone with an ounce of credibility knows that was an overtake off the circuit.

Sainz at Brazil should’ve been #1

Seriously how Max got "Action of the year" with that move I'll never know.... Way more impressive moves this year than that!

Lec overtake impossible Ver overtake very difficult and very beautiful but possible ! For me Lec P1 Ver P2

The number 1 is one of the easiest move, it's number 1 just 'cause crytappen done it. In the same footage, 20 meters behind, there is a more gutsy move made by his team-mate Albon on the (most powerful on straights) Ferrari of Vettel. That shows once again that "voted by fan" means s**t. Most of them can't even understand the basis of motorsport.

I liked the double overtake of Verstappen on LeClerc and Hamilton in Brazil the most. Such confidence and determinatiom and Senna-esque going for the gap. That’s what makes Max brilliant

The overtake of Verstappen to Leclerc in Austria is not a good overtake, was an ilegal overtake!

Passing on the grass is always tricky. A bit too much throttle either on the grass or when regaining the track and you're not going to have a good day. Much as I'm not a fan of Leclerc, I do have to say where he passed in Monaco was tricky and took some skill. I think that Norris' double pass in COTA should've been in this top ten.

Everything that F1 does here is to find a way to sell Max as an phenomenon. It sucks .... no credibility at all.

Max's overtake on Hamilton is exactly like Montoya to Schumacher at the same place in a GP of Brazil..

Where is Hamilton on Vettel in Bahrain?? And Albon on Ricciardo at Spa!!?

An overtaking package without a single highlight from Ricciardo. Sums up Renault's season perfectly.

No.4 Bottas passed Hamilton on the next corner, where no one had passed before. It was great move!

P7 was not overtaking. It was forcing out of the track and causing a collison

And Sainz in Mónaco overtakes kvyat?

Number 4 Bottas repasted Hamilton into Cops corner that should be in the top 10, not often we have cars wheel too wheel into the corner it was fantastic racing from both drivers !!! 🤙

The best overtake for me is Leclerc on Gasly in Silverston

Sainz last lap overtake that secured the point för the 6th Palace in the Championship

6 years of Boring Parades.....F1 used to actually race before the Engineering Exercise.

That Max pass on Leclerc was anything but clean or graceful. Shoulda left a little more room outside.

To vote overtake moves check tyre wear and strategy cause a Williams can send one outside of Merc if tyres are worn differently......

how was sainz 3rd and not first? that was brave and crazily tight to overtake there....

Why Leclerc got 2 best overtake? I’ve never seen overtaking at that part of the track in this decade.

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11 hrs ago

MotoGP

Round 2 in Ausin provided drama that nobody expected! 😱

Take a look back at the first moments of the #AmericasGP! 🇺🇸

#MotoGP
... See Less

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MM side to side transitions down through the esses is so much quicker than everyone else! Also he brakes so much harder and later than anyone coming into 12 it’s unreal to watch in person!

That turn 1 is so amazing.

it was actually round 3....but who's counting....

First race I went to ❤️

Who wrote this a child sloppy

Austin not 'Ausin' 😂 Round 3 not 2 😂 I think MotoGP is drunk

Cant spell Austin

Where’s Ausin? Is that near Austin?

Vr 46 😍

who won..??

Round 3 in Austin

What drama? 🤷‍♂️

Where is Ausin?

Patrick Souza

Wasn't Austin* round 3?

that race..??

Bay Shapso

Marc Marquez ❤❤

Wow this track is up, the lining of the #GP is so amazing ,😎

Forza VR46 ❤

Fabien Audouard Polo Fabien

Tressia Nowlin 🏍️❤️❤️❤️‼️‼️‼️

Ausin

Que puesto quedo rossi?

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12 hrs ago

MotoGP

A first every Álex Rins/493142754078013">#MotoGP victory for Álex Rins! 🏆

His victory back at the #AmericasGP will go down in the history books! 👏
... See Less

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Rossi has perfected diving in too late and hot, then running way wide. You'd think he'd know better by now.

rossi should kick rins. so he can win this race. 🤐

Great👍

S U Z U K Ingggggg 💪💪💪👏👏👏🦾🦾

Young riders to win 😎

I was there😁

Boa. Parabéns

👌

🔥

😍😍😍😍

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18 hrs ago

MotoGP

Maiden winners at the Marc Márquez17">#AmericasGPMaverick Viñalesf="https://facebooÁlex Rins142754078013">#MotoGP ➡️ Marc Márquez 🏆
2014 #Moto2 ➡️ Maverick Viñales 🏆
2013 #Moto3 ➡️ Álex Rins 🏆
... See Less

Comment on Facebook

2013 AmericasGP marquez: new bike, new track, fast to adapt

Miss You Little Samurai #26DP 😑😑

Of course a choose Vin also...

Always.... Marc...

First is always special ❣️❣️❣️

Always Marc 💪🏻💪🏻🇳🇵🇳🇵

Miss you dani😭😭

Marc ❤

The first sign of the alien existed

MM.93❤👍✌✌

MM93 forewer

Keliatan beda kelas antara marc dgn alex and vina

Always boring rider and boring titles from marq marquez

Babang dani 😍

Marquez...

Hallo ich bin Martin 😀

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20 hrs ago

CircuitProDigital

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