1600hrs – 05 November, 2021

Competitor comments from Yas Marina Circuit after scrutineering


Nasser Al Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel (QAT / AND)

“We are happy to be here. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is one of my favourite races and one of the rallies that I look forward to competing in every year. I want to thank Mohammed Ben Sulayem for inviting us and giving us the chance to come here again.

“I’m in a good position here, as the leader (FIA World Cup), and I need to win this event. It will be good for the whole team, who have put in the hard work. This event is good preparation for next year’s Dakar Rally.

“I always try to do my best. Me and my co-driver Mathieu have a good understanding and we try to enjoy the rally, the competition, that’s our little secret. I love rallying more than anything else… motorsport is like my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that’s all I need… all I want.”

Pavel Lebedev / Kirill Shubin (RUS / RUS)

“This is an interesting race due to the dunes here and I am expecting a tough debut. We want to be competitive with at least some of the top drivers like Cristina Gutierrez and Fernando Alvarez and we want to do have some of these drivers as markers so that we can see where we stand.

“I have done the Dubai Baja (in February), but this terrain is going to be totally different I guess. Here we have the best drivers from across the world and it is time to pit ourselves against the best.”

Guillaume De Mevius / Tom Colsoul (BEL / BEL)

“This is an amazing experience for me, and the most important and exciting thing for us would be to continue to learn. I am new in this discipline and so the first step would be to learn the dunes and the sand as this is totally new to me. The second step would be to drive the new car and work closely with the team so that we have the best car for Dakar.

“Though we are not in the race for the overall classification, our goal with the other team (Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz) is to target a good time and see where we end.”


Matthias Walkner (AUT)

“It’s super good to be the world champion, but I always like the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge because it’s a super nice desert. It also has quite fast stages and I’m always excited to be back here.

“Normally it’s the first race, but this year it’s the last race. The season is already done, but it’s an important race for me because it’s the last Dakar Rally preparation and I will try to do my best to win.

“I’ve always tried to enjoy the sport, the desert and this is what makes this event super special and I’m really motivated. Perhaps tarmac is my strength, but I will try to improve my desert skills this week.”

Daniel Sanders (AUS)

“It’s cool to be here. It’s my first time in Abu Dhabi. I’m excited to check out this event and go as fast as I can. It’s mainly sand, so it’s going to be really cool to ride in the desert. I’m coming off my first podium in Morocco and I am currently sitting second in the world championship, so I’m looking for a really strong result and to hopefully end up on the podium again. To win will be really cool.

“It’s not new to fight for a podium, I’ve won before. I’m riding really well. The bike is really good and I’m really comfortable and happy to be in the position that I am in.”

Joaquim Rodrigues (PRT)

“It’s a new race for me, I’ve never been here before so it is going to be a new experience for me. The goal is getting ready for Dakar so we’re going to try to be safe, of course, to get an injury now is really dangerous for us (with teammate CS Santosh injured). Just going to do my race and the best that I can. 

“The preparation has gone well, but you will only really know when you get to the desert. Not so easy in Portugal to prepare for a desert race, but anyway we’ve been doing a lot of races this year so the preparation has been satisfactory. 

“Like I said it’s my first time here in Abu Dhabi and it should be a good experience. The first time it’s always great and I’m looking forward to it.”

Anastasiya Nifontova (MFR)

I like this rally very much. I’m here for the fourth time again on the bike although in Russia, my home country, I switched to four wheels. I like the sand, the dunes, honestly, it’s my favourite rally in the whole championship perhaps because it’s close to my heart as it was my first Arab international rally. I like this dessert very much so it’s very personal.

“For me, it’s a fun race because I have switched to four wheels and I’m here on a bike and I would like to finish safe and see what happens after that.”