Rally-Raid: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge starts this weekend
The 2022 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship continues this weekend, with the start of round two in Abu Dhabi on March 5.
For 2022, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is set to take place from March 5-10, and it’s a bit of a revenge game for most of the factory teams that finished the Dakar Rally six weeks ago. As a reminder, the Dakar Rally is now part of the FIM series of Cross-Country Rallies, the Desert Challenge is therefore the second event of the year. The guys who had to abandon the Dakar for mechanical failure, injury or a fall at the end of the race can now take their revenge.
Sam Sunderland enters the weekend leading the standings, with 38 points for GasGas (the bike he rides is basically a KTM with a red paint job). Pablo Quintanilla is second overall, with 30 points. Third, Matthias Walkner has 24 points for KTM.
Unfortunately, a factory team will not be making the trip, as it has been closed. Although Adrien Van Beveren is ranked fourth overall, with Yamaha drawing support from its longtime factory rally raid team, he is listed in the standings with no team affiliation (see here). It looks like, for now, one of the world’s fastest rally raiders is unmanned. Hopefully he can find a new job somewhere before the end of the season.
Ross Branch, who also rode for Yamaha, is part of the Hero team, so it looks like the Kalahari Ferrari has at least found a new job.
American readers should take note: while Ricky Brabec is ranked No. 2 in the starting order of the RallyGP class, in the Rally2 class (sort of development/rookie class), Mason Klein (another American) is ranked #1. Klein, the youngest driver to start in Dakar, impressed many with his Rally2 victory in Dakar, and he is ready to take off for the BAS Dakar on Saturday.