Abu Dhabi, UAE, 18 March, 2018:  There is never an easy passage through one of the world’s top cross country rallies, but for competitors encountering problems in the heat of the battle, help will never be far away in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan next week.

Crossing some of the most demanding desert terrain on earth in the Al Dafrah Region, with competitive stages twisting on for more than 250km across giant dunes, provides a major examination for even the toughest competitors and rally machinery.

Abu Dhabi Aviation helicopters will provide the potentially life-saving aerial Search And Rescue support for the medical crews who will be on permanent standby.


The event presents a big logistical challenge for the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the rally organisers, whose main priority once again is the safety of drivers, riders, officials and volunteers assembling in the UAE for the 28th edition of the event.


With the threat of dehydration and fatigue ever present, more than 10 per cent of competitors starting the event start will need some form of medical assistance along the way.  And with an average response time of 10-12 minutes, the Desert Challenge is recognised for having the fastest emergency service in any FIA World Cup or FIM World Championship event. 


ADNOC will deliver more than 25,000 litres of fuel and set up mobile refuelling bases.


This is largely due to the work of the highly trained medical teams on hand in the fleet of National Ambulance vehicles which operate close to the rally route in the event of any emergency.  These professionals will deliver initial paramedic treatment before transferring rally crews to the event’s bivouac medical centre or hospital.

Playing another vital role, Abu Dhabi Aviation, the Middle East’s largest commercial helicopter operator, will provide the potentially life-saving aerial Search And Rescue (SAR) support for the medical crews who will be on permanent standby to be carried to the aid of competitors in trouble.

None of the desert stages start before visibility is such that helicopters can fly to ensure they go quickly to the scene of any accident or breakdown. Another crucial link in the operation is provided by ADNOC, which delivers more than 25,000 litres of fuel – aviation fuel for the helicopters and petrol and diesel for the cars, bikes and support vehicles.

In order to minimise flying time and guarantee fast rescue operations, ADNOC will set up mobile refuelling bases in the desert as well as fixed refuelling bases at the bivouac, the rally’s desert base for five nights, and in Madinat Zayed.

A National Ambulance fleet plays a key part in the rally safety.

“Without the support of ADNOC, National Ambulance and Abu Dhabi Aviation, we simply could not start the Desert Challenge,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE and Emirates Motorsport Federation and FIA Vice President for Sport. “Their combined efforts ensure a very high level of safety for competitors, volunteers, and all others involved in the event, which has always been our No. 1 priority.”

Taking place under patronage of of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in Al Dafrah Region, the Desert Challenge is the third round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies and the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes and quads.

Getting under way with asuper special spectator stage at Yas Marina Circuit at 3pm on Saturday, the rally is supported by Al Dafrah Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality, the UAE Army, Abu Dhabi Police, Nissan Middle East, ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al-Ain Water, National Ambulance Service, Tadweer, Yas Marina Circuit and the Qasr Al-Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. The Nissan Patrol is the official car for the event.