World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Leaders seal the deal in Stage 5

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Credit: Bastien Roux/DPPI

The top two in nearly every class was separated by minutes going into the fifth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and the leg being an open dash to the finish meant those trailing had to give their all. Alas, the margin was too great as those who entered the day as the leader earned the victory in the end.

Nasser Al-Attiyah led Seth Quintero in the FIA overall by 9:21, and only reinforced his win as he won Stage #5 ahead of Martin Prokop, the latter enjoying a string of podium finishes after crashing out of the third day. Even if Quintero had been able to pull it off, he would have lost anyway due to a fifteen-minute time penalty for missing a waypoint. This dropped him from his original finish of third to seventh, while allowing Yazeed Al-Rajhi to leapfrog him in the overall for second.

Rokas Baciuška‘s streak of finishing second in every ADDC Challenger stage ended Saturday when he finished third behind Cristina Gutiérrez and Nicolás Cavigliasso. Although he beat Austin Jones for the final stage podium spot, he only won by 1:59 and needed to make up another four-and-a-half minutes to catch him for the overall. Nonetheless, Can-Am Factory Team still enjoyed a 1–2 overall finish.

An even closer battle took place in SSV, where Mansour Al-Helei went into Saturday leading Yasir Seaidan by a mere 1:22. Seaidan was never able to catch Al-Helei in the 206-km run back to Abu Dhabi as the former won by 1:20 to pad the margin.

Konrad Dąbrowski held off Jean-Loup Lepan for both the stage and overall victories in Rally2, beating him by 2:40. Dąbrowski had even led all bikes in the early portion of the stage before being passed by Ross Branch, who beat his team-mate Aaron Marè by eight minutes but had to make up an improbable gap of 47:55 to win in RallyGP. Despite finishing the stage fourth for bikes and behind Dąbrowski, Marè still held him off to be the top bike outright. Dąbrowski was able to narrow the gap to less than five minutes from 10:14, coming up short by 4:56.

Abdulaziz Ahli cruised to complete a sweep in Quad.

Although the shortest stage, it was not completely free from drama. Justin Gerlach described the leg as a “super fast stage with tricky dunes and tricky navigation” that was “full of dangerous bumps and ruts that easily could lead to an accident.” His friend and Malle Moto rider Florian Dietrich was among the victims and crashed before the refuel point, preventing him from completing the full stage, though he decided to accept the accompanying time penalties and successfully arrived at the finish in Abu Dhabi.

Stage #5 winners

ClassNumberCompetitorTeamTime
Ultimate206Nasser Al-AttiyahNasser Racing2:22:37
Challenger306Cristina Gutiérrez*Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team2:35:12
SSV411Mansour Al-Helei*R-X Sport2:39:25
RallyGP46Ross BranchHero MotoSports2:32:58
Rally226Konrad DąbrowskiDUUST Rally Team2:35:40
Quad174Abdulaziz AhliAbu Dhabi Team3:05:23
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Overall winners

ClassNumberCompetitorTeamTime
Ultimate206Nasser Al-AttiyahNasser Racing16:20:09
Challenger304Austin JonesCan-Am Factory Team17:10:50
SSV411Mansour Al-Helei*R-X Sport17:42:37
RallyGP44Aaron MarèHero MotoSports16:36:13
Rally226Konrad DąbrowskiDUUST Rally Team16:41:09
Malle Moto40Hamdan Al-Ali*Hamdan Al-Ali21:47:30
Junior Trophy26Konrad DąbrowskiDUUST Rally Team16:41:09
Veteran Trophy92David MabbsVendetta Racing UAE21:10:24
Quad174Abdulaziz AhliAbu Dhabi Team20:14:22
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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