The world’s best off-road talents gather for an epic 33rd edition of the Abu Dhabi desert challenge

toyota sand

Victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is a remarkable achievement. It is a crown coveted  by every driver and rider in the cross-country rallying community, and most of the world’s best off-road racers are ready to fight in the prestigious event

The Prologue of the 33rd edition of this legendary race, in Al Dhannah City on February 26th, kicks off a week of thrills and extraordinary skills, showcasing the daring and improvisation that defines desert racing talent and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, now in its third year as the second round of the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).

Prodrive’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, and his principle regional rival Yazeed Al-Rajhi in a Toyota Hilux for Overdrive, will be at their most determined, drawing on their considerable desert racing experience to compensate for disappointing retirements in Round One in January.

More than 150 competitors will take to the unpredictable and challenging sands of the Al Dhafra region, including this year’s two-wheel sensation Tobias Ebster on a KTM in the Moto R2 class. Ebster is the nephew of KTM legend Heinz Kinigadner, and the brilliant youngster is known as Mini Kini. He competed in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge last year and won the Road to Dakar title, before finishing 20th overall in the first round of the W2RC 2024.

Further competition in the Ultimate category (ex-T1) from Overdrive comes from 2008 Desert Challenge winner Guerlain Chicherit, plus emerging Belgian star Guillaume de Mevius. 2018 Desert Challenge winner Martin Prokop in the Ford Raptor finished in second place overall in 2022 and 2023, and will be looking to go one better in 2024. The Brazilian Baumgart brothers, driving an X Rally Team supported Prodrive Hunter, are also expected to feature amongst the leading contenders this year, while 19 year-old Aliyyah Koloc from team Buggyra will be attempting to build on her very promising Dakar debut.

Following a stunning drive at last year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to win the Challenger category and finish third in the overall classification, Seth Quintero has now moved up to a drive in the Ultimate category for Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) – the official Toyota team – where he is joined by Brazilian Lucas Moraes and two South Africans, Saood Variawa and Guy Botterill, meaning Toyota Gazoo Racing is fielding the full lineup of its official team.

Al-Futtaim Toyota is also playing a crucial role in this year’s demanding event as the Official Automotive Partner. The Rally’s organisers, the Emirates Motorsports Organisation (EMSO), and Al-Futtaim Toyota continue to build on a successful relationship in which they provided a fleet of vehicles for use by officials, marshalls, volunteers, and media during last year’s edition of the Desert Challenge.

Most importantly, Al-Futtaim Toyota’s cars guarantee reliability in one of the toughest environments in the world where the event gets underway this weekend. A product of the UAE, Al-Futtaim Toyota brings a wealth of experience and heritage of its own to the historically-rich Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.