ADDC 2023: The sands show no mercy at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as top ranked rally-raid contenders fall into difficulty

ADDC 2023: The sands show no mercy at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as top ranked rally-raid contenders fall into difficulty

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With three stages down at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and two days of racing remaining, there’s drama in the dunes and in the bivouac. Stage Three brought another huge twist to the heavyweight car contest between Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sébastien Loeb.
 
2023 Dakar Rally winner Al-Attiyah won yesterday’s Stage Two to open a commanding lead in Abu Dhabi. The Qatari racer, co-driver Mathieu Baumel and their Toyota Hilux GR DKR T1+ were significantly increasing this lead before they suffered a crash 10 kilometres from the end of Stage Three. The rear bodywork, roof and windscreen were ripped off the Hilux as a result of the incident.
 
Remarkably, Al-Attiyah was still able to bring his car over the finish line as stage winner! However, the FIA officials who inspected his vehicle found that it was no longer in the proper condition to take the start of Stage Four due to serious damage to its rollcage. The car race leaders are therefore out of the rall
 
“We really tried to do everything we could to have the car ready for tomorrow, but in the end the damage to the rollcage means Nasser and Mathieu must abandon the race.”Alain Dujardyn, Toyota Gazoo Racing W2RC Team Principal
 
Things have not been much smoother for Al-Attiyah’s rival Loeb during Round Two of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship. Nine-time WRC winner Loeb and co-driver Fabian Lurquin were unable to complete Stage One in Abu Dhabi due to a cooling hose problem on their BRX Prodrive Hunter. Loeb has since rejoined the rally and now has over 500 kilometres left to race in Abu Dhabi – he's out to hoover up as many championship points as he can.
 
“We’ve suffered a lot of penalties and it means that my situation in the rally is really bad. The only thing we can do now is try to score some stage times to get some points for the championship.” Sébastien Loeb
 
Holding top spot in the T3 category of the ADDC after three stages is 20-year-old Seth Quintero. The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich driver and his navigator Dennis Zenz have given their Can-Am a cushion of nearly 30 minutes at the front of the race.
 
“We got first on the prologue and Stage One and we’ve been on the podium on the last two stages. We’re having fun and staying consistent.” – Seth Quintero
 
Second overall in the T3 race are Dakar champions Austin Jones and Gustavo Gugelmin. The third Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich crew of Mitch Guthrie Jr./Kellon Walch took the win on Stage Three in their MCE5 vehicle
 
“It looks like we got the stage win! It was another really long day. It’s gruelling out there, all these crazy dunes and really technical driving. It’s also really hot out here so it’s really demanding on the car and the body.”Mitch Guthrie Jr.
 
Second on Stage Three in the T3 class were Cristina Gutiérrez and co-driver Pablo Moreno of the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team. The all-Spanish pair are now fifth overall and targeting the final podium spots when the ADDC wraps up this Friday.
 
Gutiérrez’s fellow Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team driver Rokas Baciuška alongside navigator Oriol Vidal continues to stay in control of the T4 race, his overall lead now stands at close to 20 minutes.
 
“We had to be careful today because the dunes were tricky. It’s easy for the car to roll on these broken dunes. My co-driver Oriol did a great job finding the way today.” – Rokas Baciuška
 
Stage Three saw the retirement of Mattias Ekström and co-driver Emil Bergkvist from the T3 race due to a broken engine suffered 81 kilometres into the stage.
 
A stage win for Toby Price of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing lifts him to third overall in the bike race at the conclusion of Stage Three. The 2023 Dakar runner-up is now less than three minutes behind race leader Adrien Van Beveren.
 
“We’ve got a stage win today so we’re really happy with that. It’s been a good day and now let’s bring on day four!”Toby Price
 
UAE biker Mohammed Balooshi is giving local fans plenty to cheer at the ADDC, the KTM rider is 15th overall with two days of racing left to go in Abu Dhabi.
 
Tomorrow’s Stage Four is the longest day of racing at this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with 310 kilometres for the convoy to complete. Then on Friday the fifth and final stage at the rally will be contested over a further 208 kilometres before the eventual winners receive their prizes and the World Rally-Raid Championship points are added up.
 
Source Red Bull 
Photo: Kin Marcin / Red Bull Content Pool

 

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