ADDC 2023: Honda goes big, Al-Attiyah goes home

Key points:

  • Stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge marked the halfway point of the race and the end of the marathon stage for the motorbikes. The finish in Abu Dhabi is two days away.
  • Toby Price (KTM) clinched the motorbike special and vaulted back onto the overall podium behind Adrien Van Beveren and another HRC rider, Pablo Quintanilla.
  • Meanwhile, Nasser Al Attiyah recovered from a barrel roll 10 kilometres before the finish to claim the car stage, but the massive damage to his roll cage left the factory Toyota Gazoo Racing driver with no choice but to quit the race.
  • This major upset puts Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing), Martin Prokop (Benzina Orlen Team) and Denis Krotov (X-raid Mini JCW) back in the running for the ADDC, the second round of the championship.



Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda) lit up the race again. The Chilean crossed the finish line as the provisional winner, only for a 2-minute penalty for speeding to relegate him to second place, a mere 17 seconds behind Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Skyler Howes (Husqvarna Factory Racing) came in third, 19 seconds off the pace. Three men within 20 seconds! Meanwhile, Adrien Van Beveren, fifth on the day at 1′03″, defended his lead with 43 seconds to spare over his teammate Quintanilla. Price is back on the podium at 2′56″. A Honda 1-2-3 is still on the cards, as the Chilean Nacho Cornejo, who started the stage one second from the podium, remains within 4 seconds of the KTM rider! Honda still has three riders in the top 4. In the Rally2 category, Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing) took the win by 6′37″ over Jean-Loup Lepan (Duust Diverse Racing). The Italian remains the top dog of the category, over 23 minutes clear of the Frenchman and more than 33 minutes ahead of the other BAS World KTM Racing rider, Toni Mulec. In the quad race, Abdulaziz Ahli (Abu Dhabi Team) went back to his winning ways by 2 minutes over Laisvydas Kancius (AG Dakar School) and 24 over Rodolfo Guillioli. The Lithuanian is almost 45 minutes down on the Emirati in the general standings.


Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) again outfoxed Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) to take the special in the car race. Not even a series of barrel rolls in the final kilometres could stop the Qatari from crossing the finish line with 48 seconds to spare, but when he reached the bivouac, the FIA officials who inspected his vehicle found that it was no longer in the proper condition to take the start of stage 4 due to serious damage to its roll cage. As a result, he will not be able to add to his world championship tally of 85 points. Sébastien Loeb has a chance to continue picking up points in every stage to defend and expand his lead after the race… as long as he makes it to the finish. Following the earlier withdrawal of Guerlain Chicherit, third in the championship, the Frenchman holds a comfortable margin thanks to his performance in the Dakar. The Saudi Yazeed Al Rajhi inherited the lead of the ADDC by almost 10 minutes over Martin Prokop and twice as much over Denis Krotov. In the T3 race, Mattias Ekström seemed poised to take the win until his engine gave out 66 kilometres into the special, leaving Mitch Guthrie to take the spoils ahead of a resurgent Cristina Gutiérrez and Seth Quintero, who remains in control of the overall by 27′06″ over his Red Bull Off-Road Jr Team USA teammate Austin Jones. Meanwhile, in the T4 race, Rokas Baciuška (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) again emerged victorious from his duel with Pau Navarro (FN Speed), increasing the Lithuanian's overall lead over the Catalan by 9 minutes to a total of 18.

Tomorrow is the longest special of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which really lived up to its name today.

Source W2RC / ASO
Photo: A.S.O./DPPI

ADDC 2023: Van Beveren keeps the lead with Pablo close

The second day of the marathon stage is completed in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Monster Energy Honda Team keeps the overall lead. In a Special Stage 266 kilometers long, Pablo Quintanilla was the first on the chronograph but his stage win was lost after a two minutes penalty.
In this circuit in the Empty Quarter around Qasr Al Sarab, José Ignacio Cornejo was the second fastest among the team, with a 4th place that was enough to secure his 4th overall. Adrien Van Beveren followed Nacho in the 5th place and maintained his status in the top standings, leading the race in front of Pablo Quintanilla for just 43 seconds!
Still recovering from his Dakar crash, American Ricky Brabec made today the best 7th time – finishing the day in the 8th overall position.
Tomorrow’s Stage 4 will keep the circuit style around Qasr Al Sarab but in a longer way. Special stage will be 308 kilometers long – added by a liaison of 149 km. The landscape and terrain will remain the same, with most of the day to race on big dunes and sand tracks.

Ruben Faria - General Manager: “Today all our riders did once again a great job. Nacho was opening the track leaving in second place, being able to do a very consistent and fast stage. All riders still have the chance to win or get a podium position. They are for sure on the right path, but we still have a lot of kilometers to race. We have to look at the race on a day by day basis, being able to be consistent and cautious. Also happy with our Honda CRF 450 Rally performance and reliability. We have to keep the focus for these two last days like we did so far.”

Pablo Quintanilla 7: “The second part of the marathon stage was good for me, since I was able to keep a strong pace. I am happy with the outcome and to see how our team is performing here in these very demanding terrain in Abu Dhabi, so now let’s continue with all our determination in the last two stages.”

José Ignacio Cornejo 11: “Stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is completed. I started in second opening the track and I did my best to get as much bonus as possible. I was riding almost all day with Luciano and then Skyler joined us too. This was another solid day in the dunes, we did a good job. Now we have just two more days to go and I will fight until the end for the best result. ”

Adrien Van Beveren 42: “It was difficult today, I did not have much visibility because of the weather. At the beginning it all looked the same. It was not so easy but we did a good job. We gave our best on the second day of the marathon stage and I am happy about that. Also glad that my Honda CRF 450 Rally was always reliable during this tough stage. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is a very physical and demanding race so now I have to rest and focus on the last two days. ”

Ricky Brabec 2: “The team is doing an excellent job in this Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. During this stage I felt quite sore and this was difficult. That is why I am not risking so much, not jumping in the big dunes. My teammates up in front are a lot more committed than I am doing an amazing job. Now let’s keep it together and make it to the end.”

Source Monster Energy Honda Team

ADDC 2023: Disappointment in Abu Dhabi for Lategan/Cummings as boost issue curtails their progress

1st on Stage 2 for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel
Overall lead of 12min 14sec for Nasser and Mathieu
Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings forced to retire with boost-related issue

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings fell foul to a boost-related issue in their GR DKR Hilux T1+ during Stage 2 of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and they elected to return to the bivouac in order to affect repairs in preparation for tomorrow’s stage. They incurred the standard penalty of 5h, effectively removing them from contention. This is a disappointing result, given that they were in third overall after Stage 1 of the race. The technical crew will prepare the GR DKR Hilux T1+ in preparation for Stage 3, and the crew will continue to fight for stage victories over the remainder of the race.

Henk Lategan: “We were very pleased with our performance yesterday, and were looking forward to building on our position during Stage 2. Unfortunately, we experienced an issue with our turbo boost shortly after starting the stage. We stopped to investigate and tried to find the fault, but in the end, we elected to return to the bivouac rather than risk damage to the engine. The technical crew has sorted the issue, and we’re looking forward to racing in Stage 3 of this amazing event.”

Stage 2 of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge saw the crews complete a road section of 106km from the bivouac at Qasr Al Sarab, before taking on a timed section of 257km, bringing them back to the bivouac. The terrain consisted largely of dunes, with sections of sandy tracks in between.

A second consecutive stage win marked Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel’s progress at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The pair started the stage as the first car on the road, but despite the challenge of finding the route, they brought their Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+ to the finish in a time of 3h 33min 39sec – well clear of their nearest competitors.

For Nasser and Mathieu, the day posed no problems, as they dealt with tricky navigation and challenging terrain on their way to a second consecutive stage win. Their nearest competitors were again Yazeed Al Rajhi and co-driver Timo Gottschalk, in a privately entered Toyota Hilux T1+. Their deficit to the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew was 12min 14sec. At the same time, Nasser and Mathieu’s win netted them another 5 points in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), thereby increasing their lead over their nearest competitors to 8 points.

Stage 3 follows next, and will see the crews complete a road section of just 2km from the bivouac at Qasr Al Sarab, before taking on a special stage of 266km. As before, the terrain is expected to comprise largely of dunes and sandy tracks. A short liaison of 35km will bring the crews back to the bivouac. The 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will conclude on Friday, 3 March, after five tough stages.

Source Toyota South Africa

ADDC 2023: BRX, Loeb and Prodrive back towards the front

Sébastien Loeb demonstrating the speed of his Prodrive Hunter in the dunes of Stage 2

Bouncing back into scoring World Rally Raid Championship points today were Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in their Prodrive Hunter as they cut through the searing heat of the Abu Dhabi dunes to finish second place on stage after 257 kilometres of desert driving. Such was the intensity and difficulty of the route, that although the car hit a top speed of 170kph, the average speed was a mere 65kph but the Prodrive Hunter once more handled it all with ease.
It was a long night in the bivouac as the Bahrain Raid Xtreme technicians worked flat out to replace Loeb’s engine, doing the swap in record time with every single member of the team helping out in some way following the bad luck of a damaged coolant pipe on the first stage. With a freshly built 3.5 litre twin turbo V6 at his command the nine times WRC champion was happy that the car was flying once more doing exactly what the Prodrive engineers designed and built the car for.
Tomorrow is expected to be a similar type of stage across camel tracks and high dunes that are as tall as some city sky scrapers in amongst the truly spectacular scenery of the Al Dhafra region of the UAE.

Sébastien Loeb: “That was better! First thing is thank you to the team for the big effort they did last night to work on the car until the early hours. We reached the finish in second position today so we’ve taken some precious points for the championship on a difficult stage as there was a lot of heat in the car so that was not easy. There are new rules after Dakar that both digital road books need to validate all the waypoints but one of them didn’t ‘click’ over on one GPS point and yet the other did, so that’s odd and also not our fault. The dunes are different from the Dakar too; it’s really difficult to read them as they are very technical and very short meaning the speed drops right down and that’s the hardest thing to do.”

Gus Beteli, Team Principal: “Sébastien and Fabian did a super job today in as hot a conditions as we’ve seen for a while on a rally raid. Very warm indeed to be at that pace for over three hours so it’s no surprise they both drank all the fluids before during and after the stage. Championship points are important on every stage of this five rally title chase so having some in the bag tonight is good for BRX.”

Source: BRX / Prodrive

ADDC 2023: Van Beveren is the new leader

All Monster Energy Honda Team riders are doing a great job at this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge! True specialists in the sand, they are leading the way in the demanding tracks of the Empty Quarter. The results from today’s stage 2 – Qasr Al Sarab – confirm this scenario, with some changes in the overall standings.

Adrien Van Beveren is the new leader and Pablo Quintanilla is second just one minute and 30 seconds away. They both had today the hard mission to open the track, doing a great performance that was key to keep the team’s dominance. Van Beveren was 5th with a 3 minutes and 9 seconds gap for the leader of the stage, while Quintanilla was 9th with a 6 minutes and 55 seconds delay. José Ignacio Cornejo was the fastest among the team, with a second place with just a gap of one minute and 17 seconds. Ricky Brabec is also showing signs of a good recovery from his Dakar crash and was today the fourth fastest rider.

Tomorrow’s Stage 3 will keep the same competitive scheme, with another tour around Qasr Al Sarab and many dunes and sand to race in the depths of the Empty Quarter. Special stage will be 266 kilometers long – added by a liaison of 37 km. This is a very demanding challenge for all riders, since they are racing in marathon mode – meaning they can’t count on the assistance and back up from the team.

Ruben Faria - General Manager: “All our riders are doing a great job and the same thing goes to our Honda CRF 450 Rally. It is great to see how all of them are riding safe and fast in this demanding terrain. Now Adrien is the overall leader and Pablo is just around the corner, but we still have a long way to go so we have to keep the focus and keep the same spirit everyday.”

José Ignacio Cornejo 11: “It was a good stage today with another solid ride. I did my best to reach all the guys in front, that was not easy but I was able to make it. So I had a good day, felt good on the bike and I am happy with the results. I also have a good position for tomorrow and will fight for the bonus and keep battling until the end. ”

Ricky Brabec 2: “Stage two was good, I felt good all day and made a good push. Unfortunately at the very end I made a stupid mistake and it took me like a minute to get going again. I crashed on a dune and that did not allow me to win the stage as I wanted. But this is racing and I will keep pushing and doing my best in the days to come ”.

Adrien Van Beveren 42: “Today was a good day overall, really tough. I was able to reach Pablo at around kilometer 57 and then we rode together pushing the best we could going fast and opening the stage. It was a long way with a lot of sand dunes, broken dunes and not always easy to find the way with some surprises on the other side. I did my best and I am happy about that, considering that we were opening the stage. Now I will keep the focus for tomorrow, looking forward to getting back on the sand tracks .

Pablo Quintanilla 7: “Starting in front and opening the stage is always a difficult challenge and we knew today wouldn’t be different. The main goal was to be in front to have the bonus, so in the end it was not so bad. I was riding in front until kilometer 80 and then Adrien arrived and we were riding together. So overall I think this was a good stage, a good performance in the first part of the marathon stage - it is always very hard to manage these days since we are on our own without any assistance from the team.”

Source Monster Energy Honda Team