Powerful international line-up of cars, buggies, bikes and quads set for super stage action at Yas Marina Circuit

 Abu Dhabi, UAE, 27 March, 2015:  The stage is set for the 25th edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge POWERED BY Nissan which gets under way with a super special spectator stage at Yas Marina Circuit tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.

Starting at 3pm, Abu Dhabi’s Grand Prix Circuit for the first time hosts the traditional curtain-raiser for the event before the powerful international line-up of cars, buggies, bikes and quads leave the UAE capital on Sunday morning for the first of five demanding desert stages in the Western region of Al Garbia.

Bikes being wheeled to scrutineering at Yas Marina Circuit.

The Desert Challenge has come a long way since being launched in 1991 by Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, when 30 cars mostly from the Gulf region took part.

Underlining how the event has grown in size and quality, Yas Marina Circuit was a hive of activity today as 50 cross country rally cars and buggies and 61 bikes and quads went through official scrutineering prior to the line-up for the super special stage being finalised.

FIM world bikes champion Marc Coma (2nd from left) with KTM team-mates

Among the stars in action are reigning FIA World Cup and Desert Challenge cars champion Vladimir Vasilyev from Russia, last year’s bikes winner, Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves, this year’s Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al Attiyah of Qatar, and the reigning FIM world champions, Spain’s Marc Coma who is seeking an eighth bikes title in the UAE, and Poland’s Rafal Sonik, who defends his quads crown.

Taking place under the patronage of H.H.Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western region, the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is the second round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes.

Russian lady rider Anastasiya Nifontova

The Nissan Patrol, the “Hero of All terrain in Life”, is positioned for the 12th year as the official vehicle of the event, and has again played a vital part in allowing the route planning team to create spectacular competitive stages that follow in the desert of the Western Region of Al Garbia.

The line-up of strategic partners includes the Ruler’s Court in the Western Region, Western Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality, the UAE Army, Abu Dhabi Police, National Ambulance Service, Nissan, Yas Marina Circuit, ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al Ain Mineral Water, Abu Dhabi Waste Management, Rotana and Centro Hotels - Yas Island, Qasr Al Sarab Resort, Explorer and DP World.

World FIM quads champion Rafal Sonik of Poland (left) discussing team plans as he looks to defend his Desert Challenge title

A busy day for mechanics at Yas Marina Circuit.

The X-Raid team’s tyre department.

Dutch rider Rob Smits making final checks on his Honda.

Emirati rider Mohammed Al Balooshi looking forward to the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.