World Rally-Raid Championship

Justin Gerlach making W2RC debut in Abu Dhabi

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Credit: Justin Gerlach

After mainly competing in enduro and amateur rallies, Justin Gerlach will run a World Rally-Raid Championship leg for the first time as he announced Tuesday his plans to enter the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. He will ride in the Rally2 category.

Gerlach races in amateur events like the Rallye Breslau in Poland which he has attempted every year since 2018. He was last among the Enduro class riders in the first race but reached the finish in twenty-first overall among the bikes, followed by thirteenth in Enduro in 2019. His best performance came in 2020 when he finished sixth overall and fifth in class, slightly under four minutes off of class victor and eventual Dakar Rally competitor Tiziano Internó. After crashing out on the final day of the 2021 edition, Gerlach was fifteenth in class (thirty-second overall) in 2022 while riding a new Husky FE 501 bike.

A recent graduate from Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University with a degree in industrial engineering, he works as a real estate property manager in Berlin.

For Abu Dhabi, his KTM 450 EXC-F bike will be prepared by fellow German rider Maki Rees-Stavros, who is coming off his Dakar Rally début in which he finished seventh in Malle Moto. Tony Schattat, owner of rally navigation system provier RNS Electronics, is also involved with the effort.

“I’m super excited to take place in my first FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Cup Event,” Gerlach posted on social media.

“A week of challenging routes through the Abu Dhabi Desert are laying ahead with support of my dad @heizerhardin as mechanic, @stavroskii preparing his KTM EXCF 450 for me and @tonyschattat answering several questions and giving helpful advices.

“Last but not least cheers to @iamlindner for the great design and support with all what’s coming up next. Thanks!”

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge begins on 25 February and runs through 3 March. It is the second round of the 2023 W2RC.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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