16 Ross Branch (BWA)

Hero Honda Motorsports rider Ross Branch came off following a crash and was attended to by the medical team before being air-lifted by helicopter to Madinat Zayed Hospital for a check-up.

The ‘Kalahari Ferrari’ asked later said that he wishes to restart the rally tomorrow if he is given a medical all-clear by the organisers.

15 Lorenzo Santolino (SPA)

“This was my first time in the dunes and it was good. I also enjoyed that part of riding in a group. I am happy with the handling of the bike.”

26 Konrad Dabrowski (POL)

“The day was awesome for me. Over half the stage I was leading before I got caught by the Husqvarna factory riders. I enjoyed riding with the factory riders. It was my first time, riding in a group of factory riders. The day was awesome.”

77 Luciano Benavides (ARG)

“A good, nice stage to start the rally. I opened up for half the day, but found the navigating tricky.”

5 Skyler Howes (USA)

“The day was fun out there. I am looking forward to the rest of the stages. The bike is amazing. It rides well in the dunes and I intend to get acquainted with it in the next four days.”

78 Romain Dumontier (FRA)

“I started at the front, so I had a lot of navigating to do in this my first Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. My plan was not to crash, while staying calm and finishing the stage, which I did.”

1 Kevin Benavides (ARG)

“A good day on a tough route which was very physical. I pushed hard in the last part of the stage.”

6 Franco Caimi (ARG)

“I am trying to build up on my racing experience and to get a good rhythm.

“In the last 100km, fatigue set in with my hand due to a previous injury. But it has been a good start to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.”

52 Matthias Walkner (AUT)

“I tried to get a good rhythm going on this, the first day, which was very hot. It was a nice ride on the bike which is going well.”

20 Michael Docherty (ZAF)

“It has been a good start despite taking a few tumbles. This is my second Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and my experience is increasing all the time.

“I practice a lot around Fossil Rock here in the UAE. I need to improve my navigation skills. So tomorrow and the rest of the rally will be interesting.”

3 Sam Sunderland (GBR)

“The first day has been a bit of a shock to the system, both physically and with the heat. When the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge comes along it’s always ‘Wohoa – here we go’. For me now, it’s about getting the racing rhythm.”

157 Makis Rees-Stavros (GBR)

“It has been a good start despite a tumble over the bars in the first 14km. A dune of soft sand was the culprit, resulting to having stitches on my hand at the re-fuelling point. It’s a very hot day and I tried pushing it after getting caught by another rider.”

48 Paolo Lucci (ITA)

“It was a hard opening stage as it was difficult to find a good grip, especially in the final parts with the sun and soft sand. But it is only the first day.

“I crashed in the middle of the stage, and luckily it was not a big crash. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will be good training for my future.”

174 Abdulaziz Ahli (ARE)

“I was going fast at the beginning because I started first. My strategy was to establish as much a gap as possible from my opponents. Tomorrow will be the toughest stage because it is the longest.”