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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Desert-Bound as Leg 1 Gets Underway

Nissan Patrolstage takes in 300 kilometres of the world’s toughest terrain

ABU DHABI (UAE). Sunday, April 1, 2011:With the world’s top rally drivers and riders now on the ground in Abu Dhabi, preparations are complete for the competitive stages of this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which get underway today (Monday, April 2) with Leg 1 – the Nissan Patrol stage - of the rally.

Departing at 09.00 from outside the city of Abu Dhabi, a truly international field of 120 cars, bikes and quads from some 35 nations will cover 300 kilometres of testing desert terrain as the first day sees the pre-rally excitement replaced by the exciting, yet daunting reality of the challenges that lie ahead. The day will end with the racers arriving at the rally’s bivouac base camp, located adjacent to the luxurious Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.

The stage is named Nissan Patrol after one of the most popular SUVs in the region, which is this year celebrating its 60th Anniversary. Known as the ‘Hero of All Terrain’, the Nissan Patrol is not only the official vehicle of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, being used by the race officials during the event, but is also the car of choice for many of the competitors.

Spectators will once again be able to access key viewpoints along the route, and take in the breath-taking sight of the competitors tackling the toughest terrain the world has to offer at high-speed. Most accessible are the viewpoints 22km and 28km south of the Emirates National Auto Museum on the E65, as well as at the focal point of the rally, the bivouac itself.

Starting positions for Leg 1 of the Desert Challenge were decided on Sunday afternoon at the Super Special Stage. Held next to Marina Mall, and put together by rally organiser the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE (ATCUAE) with the close support and assistance of Abu Dhabi Municipality, this adrenalin-filled time trial offered the crowds of spectators a unique chance to get up close to the competitors and their vehicles.

This unique time trial saw Mohammed Ben Sulayem, founder of the Desert Challenge and president of rally organisers the ATCUAE, flag off competitors on the specially-designed track, which was set against the magnificent backdrop of the city of Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is organised by the ATCUAE, and is held under the under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region. Its high-profile line-up of supporters, includes the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Nissan and ADNOC.