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

ADDC 2023: Honda stick together as Al-Attiyah shows who's boss

Key points:

  • Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge took the field on a loop around the heart of the Liwa desert. The sun-scorched course stretched for 250 kilometres, roughly half of which were in the dunes. It was the first half of the marathon stage for the FIM entrants.
  • Luciano Benavides emerged victorious from the motorbike special, while Adrien Van Beveren rocketed up to the top of the standings ahead of his fellow Honda rider, Pablo Quintanilla, and the stage winner for Husqvarna. Another Honda representative, Nacho Cornejo, sits fourth overall, a single second behind the Argentinian.
  • Meanwhile, Nasser Al Attiyah could have taken a conservative approach to the car race, but instead of that he trounced Yazeed Al Rajhi and Ford's Martin Prokop. The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver padded his overall lead on the Saudi in the ADDC.


The Honda duo charged with opening the way today, Quintanilla and Van Beveren, came in ninth and fifth in the special but remain in control of the general standings, with the Frenchman bumping the Chilean from the lead of the ADDC by 1′30″. Luciano Benavides claimed the special and rode his Husqvarna into third place overall, 3′27″ behind VBA. Nacho Cornejo, second today at 1′17″, now sits fourth overall, with a single second separating Honda from a 100% red podium in the provisional standings! Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) slipped from third to sixth overall, almost 4 minutes back, after finishing eighth on the day. The race is still extremely close. Skyler Howes is eighth at under 6 minutes down. In the Rally2 category, Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing) prevailed by 8′23″ over the rookie Tobias Ebster (SRG Motorsports). He also put some time into Jean-Loup Lepan (Duust Diverse Racing), Toni Mulec (BAS World KTM Racing) and Konrad Dąbrowski (Duust Diverse Racing). The Italian is over 14 minutes clear of Dąbrowski and almost 15 minutes ahead of Lepan in the W2RC standings for the race. In the quad category, Laisvydas Kancius ended Abdulaziz Ahli's victorious streak with a win by just under 2 minutes. However, the Emirati remains firmly in control of the general standings, where he leads the Lithuanian by nearly 42 minutes and Rodolfo Guillioli by close to an hour. At the finish in the bivouac, as part of the marathon stage, the RallyGP riders were given half an hour to service their motorbikes without external support, while the Rally2 riders got an hour.


Yesterday, Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) saw Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme), his main rival in the fight for the world championship, tumble out of contention for the ADDC after withdrawing from the special. This morning, some were wondering whether the Qatari was going to drive conservatively, like he did in the second week of the Dakar, when he gave the Frenchman a clear run to pick up six consecutive stage wins and a harvest a bumper crop of points. Al Attiyah answered loud and clear, steamrolling the opposition and putting 7′47″ into Loeb and 12′14″ into Al Rajhi at the finish. However, once in the bivouac, the BRX driver was slapped with a 15-minute penalty for missing a waypoint during the special and a 50-hour penalty for swapping his engine overnight following yesterday's mechanical struggles, as set out in the rules and expected by the Prodrive team. Al Attiyah now leads Al Rajhi by 18′19″. Meanwhile, Mattias Ekström bounced back from yesterday's fuel exhaustion to clinch the T3 special and finish fifth in the overall stage, 18′30″ behind Al Attiyah. The Swede and the South Racing / Can-Am he picked for the ADDC proved stronger than the three Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA drivers, Seth Quintero (+ 2′41″), Austin Jones (+ 4′34″) and Mitch Guthrie (+ 4′34″). Quintero holds the overall lead by 9′41″ over Jones, with Aliyyah Koloc (Buggyra ZM Racing) third among the W2RC entrants. Meanwhile, Rokas Baciuška (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) grabbed the top W2RC spot in the T4 stage and put almost 4 minutes into Pau Navarro (FN Speed). The Lithuanian stayed in command of the overall by more than 9 minutes over the Catalan.

Source: W2RC/ASO
Photo: A.S.O./DPPI




ADDC 2023: Pablo Quintanilla wins stage one and keeps the lead


Monster Energy Honda Team is ruling in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023! After the prologue win, Chilean Pablo Quintanilla was today once again the fastest rider on Stage one. His teammate Adrien Van Beveren kept his second place, while José Ignacio Cornejo improved his performance finishing in fourth place and Ricky Brabec was 6th overall.

Going into the depths of the Empty Quarter, Stage 1 connected the city of Al Dhannah and Qasr Al Sarab with a total of 404 kilometers. The Special Stage was 242 km long, added by a liaison of another 162 km. Dunes and sandy tracks made the day, a terrain that meets the profile of Honda riders in a perfect way since all of them are desert specialists.

Tomorrow Stage 2 will keep the competition in the same region, with a 257 kilometers tour around Qasr Al Sarab – added by a liaison of 108 km. The action takes place on the depths of the Empty Quarter, with sandy tracks and huge dunes to overcome. For the Monster Energy Honda Team the challenge will be simple: to keep the lead in a day that Pablo Quintanilla and Adrien Van Beveren will open the track.

Ruben Faria - General Manager: “After the prologue win of yesterday we were able to start from behind and this is very important in a race like the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Pablo did a good job once again and won the stage. Adrien followed Pablo along the stage while Nacho was riding together with Skyler all day. Ricky was not on the bonus points, since he was not among the first three, but anyway he did a consistent performance. We are leading individually and also as a team and this is very important. Tomorrow is another day so let’s keep the focus. We know Pablo and Adrien will have a hard day opening the stage, hopefully they can benefit from the bonus. Nacho and Ricky can improve their position since they don’t have this pressure. ”

Pablo Quintanilla 7: “This was a great stage for me, since I was able to find a good pace from the beginning. The terrain was not easy, with many drops in the dunes and some fast parts difficult to see. Everything went well with me and my Honda CRF 450 Rally. I could get the right balance between speed and navigation. Winning the prologue and the first stage means we have started the race on the right foot so let's continue that way!”

Adrien Van Beveren 42: “Everything went well today, it was a good day in the dunes. The terrain was hard with a lot of broken dunes and valleys, not so easy to find the rhythm. I am happy and Pablo was with me until the end and we could ride fast together. So far the result is good but we have to stay focused knowing there are four more stages to race. ”

José Ignacio Cornejo 11: “It was a good first stage! We started third and that was a risk, then I could reach Skyler Howes and manage to keep racing all the way with him. I think I did a good job, got some bonus and overall it was a solid performance. Now I am motivated and strong for tomorrow, willing to improve my position in the overall ranking. ”

Ricky Brabec 2: “I am happy to finish another stage. I definitely felt better than the result showed today. I was a little bit sore today, we battled the wind most of the day and that was hard for the body. Anyway I am here to fight and do my best until the last day”.


Source Monster Energy Honda Team

ADDC 2023: Toyota and Honda going from strength to strength

Key points:
The winners of the prologue in the car and motorbike categories successfully navigated the first stage of the ADDC, held on a never-seen-before course, and stayed in control of the race following the opener.
Toyota dominated the car stage, with Nasser Al Attiyah preceding Yazeed Al Rajhi and Henk Lategan. Meanwhile, at BRX, Sébastien Loeb failed to finish the special due to a mechanical and Guerlain Chicherit withdrew from the race after falling ill in the dunes.
Just like yesterday, Pablo Quintanilla prevailed over Adrien Van Beveren in the motorbike stage. The two Honda riders continue to top the leader board, with Toby Price third overall.


Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) was probably braced for a fierce competition with his main rivals for the championship. The overall leader, Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme), ground down to a standstill with coolant hose issues a mere 39 kilometres into the race. His subsequent withdrawal from the race spells the end of his ADDC title challenge and echoed his nightmare from last year, when he also had to throw in the towel on day one. However, this time round, his Qatari rival was not kind enough to follow him down the boulevard of broken dreams! Instead, Guerlain Chicherit, the other Prodrive entrant, who had been close behind the factory Hilux at the first checkpoint, also ran into serious trouble. The Frenchman had to stop several times following a bout of "sea sickness"… in a sea of dunes. In the end, he decided to quit the race despite finishing the stage in third place overall. Toyota scored a clean sweep, with the three Hilux drivers, Nasser Al Attiyah, Yazeed Al Rajhi and Henk Lategan, hogging the top 3 in the stage and the general standings. In the T3 category, Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA) outgunned his teammate Austin Jones. The world championship leader produced a gutsy ride to take the runner-up's spot. Although there were valuable points on the line, the American rushed to the aid of his teammate Cristina Gutiérrez (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) without thinking twice after she ran out of fuel. Mattias Ekström, who held second place in the category for much of the stage, shared the Spaniard's fate. Meanwhile, Rokas Baciuška (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) grabbed the T4 stage. Pau Navarro (FN Speed), who came in just over 5 minutes behind the stage winner and provisional leader, is shaping up to be his arch-rival in this round.


Pablo Quintanilla and his teammate Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda), the fastest men in yesterday's prologue, were untouchable again today. The Chilean bagged the special with two minutes to spare over the Frenchman, with Ross Branch (Hero MotoSports) in third place at 3′14″ down. Another Honda rider, "Nacho" Cornejo, posted the fourth fastest time at 4′16″. Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came in fifth at 4′37″. In the general standings following stage 1, adding the times in today's special to those in the prologue, which were multiplied by a coefficient of 8 in accordance with the championship rules, Quintanilla is 2′16″ ahead of "VBA" and 5′17″ clear of Price. Branch is fourth, a meagre 3 seconds behind the factory KTM rider. In the Rally2 competition, Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing) took over the reins of the race from Konrad Dąbrowski (Duust Diverse Racing), 5 minutes back today. The Pole is still within 2 minutes of the Italian in the rankings. Jean-Loup Lepan (Duust Diverse Racing) is third in the provisional W2RC standings at 8′35″. Toni Mulec (BAS World KTM Racing) also ran out of petrol before the refuelling station and is now fourth, 35 minutes behind the leader. Abdulaziz Ahli hit the ground running in the quad race, putting over twenty minutes into Rodolfo Guillioli in both the stage and the overall. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Laisvydas Kancius is almost 45 minutes down on the Emirati after screeching to a halt.


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