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Tough Nissan leg to provide firm test of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge competitors’ credentials

ABU DHABI (UAE). Wednesday, April 4, 2011:Day four of the 2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (Thursday, April 5) sees competitors take on arguably the rally’s toughest leg, appropriately named after Nissan, a long-term supporter of the rally, whose flagship Patrol SUV is the race’s official car.   

The Nissan leg will provide the firmest test of each remaining competitor’s rallying credentials, with competitors already exhausted, and their machines pushed to the limit, after three days of gruelling racing. None more so than the Middle East-based racers who will be determined to finish strongly in the region’s leading cross-country rally, with Khalifa Al Mutaiwei, Yahya Bel Helei and Obaid Al Kitbe all having all shone over the early stages of the rally.

Competitors who have successfully navigated the previous three legs will put themselves up against 317 kilometresof the most testing rallying terrain on what is the last full day of racing to take place entirely among the incredible setting that is the beautiful desert of the Western Region.

Leg 4 starts at 7:30am from the edge of the E45 road, approximately 24 kilometres north of Mezaira’a. From there, riders and drivers head west across the arid desert towards the first checkpoint, 36km up the E15 Ghiyathi Road. They then complete a loop that takes them further west, before returning to the same checkpoint. This stop is an ideal base for spectators, with racers passing through it twice in one day. 

Once refuelled, competitors embark upon another loop, heading west, south, then back east until they are running parallel to the E15. Spectators can watch from either of two viewpoints just south of the main road, beforethe racers tackle the final section through the massive dunes of the Empty Quarter, south of the Liwa Oasis, and on to the finishing point eight kilometres north of Moreeb Hill.

While 2012 marks the 22nd edition of the Desert Challenge, it also heralds the 60th anniversary year of the Nissan Patrol – a vehicle steeped in the heritage of the Middle East and dubbed “The Hero of All Terrain”. A key partner of the rally, Nissan is providing several Patrols to act as off-road transport for the organisers, while a number of racers are also competing behind the wheel of this rugged SUV.

“The partnership between Nissan and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has been integral to the success of the rally for the past nine years – when you think of the Desert Challenge, you think of Nissan,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, founder of the Desert Challenge and president of rally organizers, the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE). “The Patrol is built for this terrain, making for a very strong partnership.”

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge sees competitors push them to their physical and mental limits over five gruelling days, tackling some of the toughest terrain on the planet – the massive sand dunes of the Empty Quarter desert of the Western Region. The successful participants will cross the finishing line in Abu Dhabi on Friday, 6th April.

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