Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Al Attiyah takes control in the overall

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On the eve of the finish of the second round on the calendar, the penultimate stage of the 33rd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge again delivered on its promise with a rollercoaster of emotions.

Another day, another batch of favourites bowing out of the ADDC. Juan Cruz Yacopini (Overdrive Racing), third in the previous edition and in the championship last season, was disqualified for resorting to outside assistance in yesterday’s special. Nasser Al Attiyah bolted out of the gates this morning hell-bent on erasing his 1′10″ deficit to yesterday’s winner, Seth Quintero. The Hunter and his Qatari topped the board at each intermediate time check and romped home with 10′31″ in hand over the American, who came in fourth in the stage and slipped to second overall, 9′21″ back.

Second place in the stage appeared to have Guerlain Chicherit’s name written all over it, but about ten kilometres before the line, The Fall Guy dived headfirst into a dune, burying his prospects of finishing on the bottom step of the overall podium. His co-driver, Alex Winocq, hurt his lower back in the crash, prompting the Frenchman to call for an airlift out of an abundance of caution. Their misfortune echoes that of their teammate Guillaume de Mévius two days ago.

Yazeed Al Rajhi took second in the stage, 8′21″ down on the two-time world champion. The ADDC champion and runner-up to the Qatari in the W2RC is now third overall at 12′07″. Martin Prokop’s accident in the dunes yesterday may have taken him out of the fight, but it certainly did not take the fight out of him, as the Orlen Jipocard driver proved today by finishing on a stage podium that was a who’s who of recent winner of the rally: Al Attiyah (2008, 2016 and 2021), Al Rajhi (2023) and Prokop (2018).

De Mévius and Chicherit, second and third in the championship following the Dakar, are feeling the heat from Nasser Al Attiyah and Yazeed Al Rajhi on the eve of the finale of the second round of the W2RC. The Qatari has a legitimate shot at second place, while the Saudi will be knocking on the door of the podium.

Austin Jones and Rokas Baciuška landed Can-Am Factory their third double of the week in the Challenger class. The American now leads the Lithuanian by 7′08″. With the championship lead at stake, he would do well to keep his rivals close… and his teammate closer! Dania Akeel (Taurus Factory Wevers) ranks third among the W2RC entrants. Yasir Seaidan (MMP) emerged victorious from the SSV special. The Saudi championship leader was the fastest W2RC competitor, ahead of Sebastián Guayasamín (FN Speed) and Rebecca Busi (OnlyFans Racing).