UAE: Al Qassimi, Sunderland and Al Musallam claim victories after punishing Abu Dhabi Challenge

UAE: Al Qassimi, Sunderland and Al Musallam claim victories after punishing Abu Dhabi Challenge
Abu Dhabi Racing's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi takes a stunning victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with his new Peugeot 3008 DKR

Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi takes a stunning victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with his new Peugeot 3008 DKR

ABU DHABI (UAE) –Thursday, April 6th 2017: Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, Dubai-based Briton Sam Sunderland and Kuwait’s Fahad Al-Musallam secured overall victories after the final dramatic Abu Dhabi Aviation-sponsored stage of 219.76km at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge POWERED BY NISSAN on Thursday.

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah appeared to be cruising to victory in the cars until he rolled his Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux heavily before the opening passage control. Despite continuing for a short while after a long delay, he retired the damaged car at PC1.

Al-Qassimi and navigator Khalid Al-Kendi had put their previous day’s troubles behind them and were pushing hard to the finish and keeping the pressure on their rivals. Their determination was duly rewarded with a superb victory that gives the Abu Dhabi driver a 33-point lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies after three rounds.

A fascinating tussle ensued for supremacy in the motorcycle and quad categories. Honda’s Paulo Gonçalves began the last stage with a lead of 33.8 seconds, but starting order is crucial in this form of cross-country rallying and Dakar champion Sam Sunderland delivered a stunning ride on his Red Bull KTM 450 Rally to seal the stage win and earn his first Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge victory.

Starting eighth on the road was an obvious advantage and the Dubai-based rider’s strategy paid off handsomely. Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla bounced back from recent career setbacks to claim second place on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna – 6min 13.7sec behind the winner – and Austrian Matthias Walkner won the battle with Paulo Gonçalves for third place.

“It feels cool, it’s been a long time coming,” said Sunderland. “This is my home race. I made a good start and it’s been the perfect race for me. It started well but it’s been really hard. I knew that I had to push hard this morning to make up the time quickly and that the first section was important. The team has been great, the bike’s been fantastic and it’s a great way to follow up the win in Dakar.”

Ride to Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi was the leading Arab finisher in seventh position.  “Very happy to finish this rally. It was tough. All the respect to the guys who finish ahead of me. They are super athletes. It is their job. Not being on this bike for a year. I did not expect more than this. My progress was stopped. I could not have done this without my team at Ride to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and all my sponsors. Without them, this sport is difficult. They play a key role.”


A delighted Al-Qassimi will take many positives from his debut in the Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 3008 DKR. Delays on day four aside, Al-Qassimi has adapted well to cross-country rallying in a short space of time and his victory throws the FIA World Cup wide open. His winning margin was 41min 26sec and he became the first Emirati to win the event since Mohammed Mattar won the two non-championship races way back in 1991 and 1992.

Al-Qassimi said: “I think this is the first win on an FIA World Cup round for an Emirati in 27 years. This event has been in the series for 25 years and this is also a first for an Emirati. I don’t want to be so greedy. I am still learning and for me every day is a learning curve. This is only my fourth or fifth cross-country. I am pushing myself to a good level. The team itself, all of us, had a good effort. We had a lot of problems. We took stock after the drive shaft. That was a bad time. That’s why they call it cross-country. You keep pushing. It is good for myself and for Abu Dhabi. It’s an Abu Dhabi event. It is fantastic for everyone that we won this rally. It’s a big boost winning this rally. We are happy. I am not doing the Cross-Country championship. The reality is that we are leading now. Do we do another event?”

Czech driver Martin Prokop delivered a career-best performance in this discipline of rallying to snatch second place in his Ford F-150. Mohammed Abu Issa has enjoyed a successful transition from racing on a quad to being competitive in a car and the Qatari finished third overall in his Mini All4 Racing.

Khalid Al-Feraihi, Yayha Al-Helai and Mark Powell delivered excellent performances to finish fourth, fifth and sixth overall.

T2 became a battle ground between Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Yasir Saiedan after earlier delays for Abu Dhabi’s Emil Khneisser and Qatar’s Adel Abdulla. Al-Shegawi was delayed on the last stage and Saiedan claimed the win from Al-Shegawi, Mansoor Al-Helai and Adel Abdulla.

Dutchman Kees Koolen won the day’s stage in the quads but, when Guatamala’s Rodolfo Schippers – who began the day with a lead of 1min 43.3sec – stopped with mechanical issues it opened the door for Kuwait’s Fahad Al-Musallam to claim a memorable win on his Yamaha Raptor 700 R. Former leader Kamil Wisniewski of Poland finished third.

Al-Musallam said: “I cannot quite believe it honestly. It feels like a dream. I guess I will wake up and realise this achievement. I was trying to chase Rodolfo (Schippers). The goal was to finish each stage and then to push. I caught some time early on and then we have the win. It’s a great feeling.”


“Once again we enjoyed a gripping Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge,” said event founder and ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem. “My thanks to go out to all our government departments, to our sponsors and to the competitors, officials, media and volunteers who make the event such a success.”

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge took 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.

Young Kuwaiti Fahad Al-Musallam claimed a stunning victory in the quad category

Young Kuwaiti Fahad Al-Musallam claimed a stunning victory in the quad category

Thursday – as it happened

The final stage was only 219.76km in length and similar to stage one in reverse. Kevin Benavides was first on the road on his Honda but attention focused on the battle between Renet, Gonçalves, Walkner, Quintanilla and Sunderland for the stage win and the overall victory.

Sunderland delivered a master class performance through the crucial opening kilometres and, even though Quintanilla overtook Mohammed Jaffar early on, Sunderland passed both Jaffar and Al-Balooshi and was 3min 17sec fastest than the Chilean at PC1, after 88.52km. The victory was now the Englishman’s to lose over the closing kilometres of the bike race.

AlMusallam began to chisel away at Schippers’s overnight lead in the quads and shaved 36 seconds off that advantage at PC1. He held on to claim the win when his rival stopped.

Al-Attiyah just needed to avoid taking any risks to win the car category for the third time and give Toyota a second win. But the Qatari got caught out on a fast section of track before the first passage control and launched the Toyota into a heavy roll. The crew frantically tried to make repairs and began to crawl through the stage to the first checkpoint, but it was to no avail and it opened the door for Al-Qassimi to snatch a sensational victory.

It also meant that Al-Qassimi leapt to the top of the unofficial championship standings before the next round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in Qatar.


2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – positions on leg 5 (Thursday – unofficial @ 13.45hrs):


1. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR       2hr 46min 23sec

2. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo                2hr 53min 44sec

3. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO) Hummer H3 Evo III       2hr 57min 02sec

4. Eugenio Amos (ITA)/Rafael Tornabell (ESP) Buggy 2WD                                3hr 01min 50sec

5. Yayha Al-Helai (ARE)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Nissan Pick-Up                     3hr 14min 18sec

6. Mark Powell (GBR)/Quin Evans (GBR) Fast & Speed Buggy             3hr 21min 37sec



1. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                      2hr 40min 20sec

2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna 450 Rally                                        2hr 46min 19sec

3. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                    2hr 49min 18sec

4. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda 450 CRF Rally                                        2hr 52min 46sec

5. Pierre Alexander Renet (FRA) Husqvarna 450 Rally                                2hr 55min 16sec

6. Antoine Meo (FRA)  KTM 450 Rally Factory                                2hr 55min 52sec



1. Kees Koolen (NED) Barren Racer One 690                                            3hr 14min 53sec

2. Alexis Hernande Ponce (PER) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                                3hr 18min 02sec

3. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700                                                       3hr 20min 40sec

4. Fahad Al-Musallam (KUW)  Yamaha Raptor 700R                                  3hr 21min 24sec


2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – positions after Leg 5 (Thursday – unofficial @ 13.45hrs):


1. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR       19hr 16min 24.8sec

2. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo                19hr 57min 51.1sec

3. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA)  Mini All4 Racing      21hr 29min 02.7sec

4. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Nissan Patrol             23hr 37min 58.3sec

5. Yayha Al-Helai (ARE)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Nissan Pick-Up                     23hr 47min 42.6sec

6. Mark Powell (GBR)/Quin Evans (GBR) Fast & Speed Buggy             24hr 02min 39.5sec



1. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                      18hr 14min 32.5sec

2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna 450 Rally                                        18hr 20min 46.2sec

3. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                    18hr 22min 48.6sec

4. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda 450 CRF Rally                                        18hr 25min 42.8sec

5. Pierre Alexander Renet (FRA) Husqvarna 450 Rally                                18hr 29min 23.3sec

6. Antoine Meo (FRA)  KTM 450 Rally Factory                                19hr 23min 33.1sec

7. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica                                19hr 45min 06.7sec

8. Mohammed Jaffar (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica                                    21hr 11min 20.5sec



1. Fahad Al-Musallam (KUW)  Yamaha Raptor 700R                                  22hr 33min 02.2sec

2. Kamil Wisniewski (POL) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                                     23hr 12min 58.4sec

3. Camelia Liparoti (ITA) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                                        23hr 42min 23.4sec

4. Maxim Antimirov (KAZ) Honda TRX 700                                               23hr 54min 38.4sec

5. Alexis Hernande Ponce (PER) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                                24hr 19min 14.8sec


FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – standings after round 3 (unofficial):

1. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)                          81pts

2. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)                     48pts

3. Martin Prokop (CZE)                                42pts

4. Aron Domzala (POL)                               41pts

5. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)                  30pts, etc

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9 hrs ago


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


Did he say Sonny Moore at 0:28?

Congrats 😎

Sarah Jones

Nikko Par

Alex Albon 💙

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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10 hrs ago


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.

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


🥁 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


Round 2 in Ausin provided drama that nobody expected! 😱

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

... 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 🏍️❤️❤️❤️‼️‼️‼️


Que puesto quedo rossi?

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13 hrs ago


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

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


S U Z U K Ingggggg 💪💪💪👏👏👏🦾🦾

Young riders to win 😎

I was there😁

Boa. Parabéns




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19 hrs ago


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


MM93 forewer

Keliatan beda kelas antara marc dgn alex and vina

Always boring rider and boring titles from marq marquez

Babang dani 😍


Hallo ich bin Martin 😀

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21 hrs ago


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