DUBAI — Nasser Al-Attiyah produced a convincing victory in the inaugural Dubai International Baja powered by AW Rostamani and Nissan Saturday as Dubai-based South African rider Mark Ackerman produced a brilliant surge on the last leg to clinch the bikes crown.
Qatar’s reigning FIA World Cup champion Al-Attiyah, partnered by French co-driver Mathieu Baumel in a Toyota Hilux, extended his overnight lead to win by 14 mins 57 secs from the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Khalid Al-Kendi who finished a clear second in their Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 2008 DKR.
Former Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge quads champion Mohammed Abu Issa with Frenchman Xavier Panseri were another 8 mins 10 secs further away in third in their Mini All4 Racing in the second round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies.
Finishing seventh overall, Ukrainian driver Vadym Prytuliak driving solo in a Polaris RZR edged out the UAE’s Ahmed Al Maqoodi and Obaid Al-Kitbi by just nine seconds to capture the buggies title.
With the event also forming the opening round of the FIM Bajas World Cup Ackerman, riding a Husqvarna, wiped out a 1 min 28 secs overnight held by Benjamin Melot on a KTM to win the stage and take the bikes title by 29 seconds from the Frenchman.
With the UAE’s new World Cup event producing more spectacular action as the Nissan Stage 3 unfolded among the dramatic dunes and plains of the Al Qudra desert, top Emirati rider Mohammed Al Balooshi climbed one place to finish third.
Young Emirati Mansour Al-Helei, partnered by experienced WRC co-driver Chris Patterson in an Abu Dhabi Racing Toyota Land Cruiser, was an impressive winner of the T2 production class, taking it by 3 mins 34 secs from UAE-based Emil Khneisser in a Nissan Patrol.
Qatar’s reigning FIA World Cup T2 champion Adel Hussain Abdulla of Qatar was third in the class in another Nissan Patrol.
Frenchman Ronan Chabot in a Toyota Hilux, Czech Republic driver Miroslav Zapletal in a Hummer, and World Cup first round winner Aron Domzala of Poland in another Hilux completed the cars top six.
Taking place under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, the Dubai International Baja was supported by Dubai Sport Council, Dubai Police, Dubai Civil Defence, Al-Ain Water and AssetCo Fire and Rescue. — SG