1345hrs, 06 November, 2021

Competitor comments from Yas Marina Circuit after Press Conference

Autos

Yazeed Al Rajhi / Michael Orr (SAU / GBR)

“Everyone is here to win this race, and I am no different. I have a good feeling going into this one as it is such a pleasure going over the dunes. We need this good feeling and I think I have a nice taste going into this one, and that’s very important for an event like this.

“I hope all will go well for everyone and we can all come out of this safely after five days. Nasser is a worthy and tough competitor and we need to push maximum going against him. We will step forward with our best as we look ahead to getting prepared for Dakar.”

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi / Wouter Rosegaar (ARE / NLD)

“I think as a family we are all really glad to be back after this pandemic. We’ve done well to contain this, and all credit for this goes to our leaders.

“I am happy to be in my home event. It’s been a while since I last drove, so you can imagine the feeling inside of me just heading out into the desert and taking in the beauty and being out there on the dunes. No doubt, it’s a different car this time, but we need to continue evolving and promoting this new car with the future in mind.”

Nasser Al Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel (QAT / AND)

“My heartfelt thanks to the organisers led by Mohammed Ben Sulayem for keeping this event alive and active for the past 30 years. Thanks also to the Abu Dhabi Government for putting all measures in place so that everyone can be safe and secure during this pandemic time.

“Personally, I love to come to one of the best races in the world as it also doubles up as an ideal preparation for Dakar.”

Yahya Al Helei / Khalid Al Kindi (ARE / ARE)

“I have been part of this rally for the past 30 years, and it is a matter of pride that I have been able to represent my country every time I have been out there in the desert. This in itself is a big challenge.

“At most times, I have been my sponsor, and when I look behind I think it is money well spent for a genuine cause.

“The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is one of the toughest rallies in the world, and I have known some of the top drivers waiting to follow me over the dunes due to my knowledge of this terrain. 

“That said, I have been fortunate all my life. I raced first with a champion team, and over the years I have been blessed to mingle and meet some of the best drivers from across the world. I have learned a lot and this has been the biggest positive of my career.”

Jakub Przygonski / Timo Gottschalk (POL / DEU)

“I cannot explain to you the thrill I feel at being here again. It’s one of the nicest sand in the world, and at times I wish we could have this sort of sand back home in Poland.

“Secondly, it is the unique atmosphere and experience that keeps me going here. I started with the bikes, but now I am with the cars. This is a unique challenge for me, and I will try to be competitive here as the field gets bigger and bigger and nicer and nicer.”

Mansour Al Helei / Abdulla Dakhan (ARE / ARE)

“I am really happy to be back here as this event holds a special place for me as I made my debut here in 2010. I have talent, but I only need a bit of support from everyone so that I can achieve what I dream of.

“I am still in my 20s, and I want to improve and I want to leave a mark in my sport over the next few years. ADCB has been a huge support for me in this event and I am glad to be part of their vision. 

“My dream in the future is to be one of the top drivers in the world. I give myself another ten years to achieve this goal.”

Motos

Mohammed Al Balooshi (UAE) 

“I’m very excited to be part of the 30th edition. This rally is unique, it is a big challenge. You cannot find any of this terrain anywhere in the world.

“I’m very proud to be an Emirati participating in this rally and it is a boost for my Academy. I believe it falls on my shoulders and it’s my responsibility to pass on my knowledge to the new generation. This is how I would like to be remembered, my legacy.

“Riding bikes is an experience that keeps you on the edge and this is what helps me feel most alive and drives my passion for the sport, Nothing can compare to this feeling, not fast cars or rally cars.” 

Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)

“I’m really excited to be here. It’s my first time in Abu Dhabi but I know a little bit about the area, the dunes, because I have been training for a few weeks in Dubai.

“Sand dunes are my favourite surface because I was born in the North of France where

we used to ride in beach races so it’s super cool for me to be racing here. 

“I’ve had a good year of races. I was third in Kazakhstan and fifth in Morocco recently. I feel ready for this rally and of course the Dakar Rally next year.

“It’s been a long time without racing due to the pandemic, but now I feel like engaging with my sport again. I’m currently in the third position and will try to do my best to end the year on a high note.”

Rafal Sonik (POL)

“The UAE desert has always been very, very challenging. My first rally here was in 2009 in March and it was the biggest challenge in the desert for me besides the Dakar.

“I had to learn a lot and I’m still learning after 12 years. There is a balance of pleasure and challenge coming here year after year, I feel privileged that we can do it again.  Because I’m probably one of the oldest participants (55) this unique privilege has grown and grown.

“Quad is my focus in off-road because I think that the bike is like a camel or a horse. I know some motorbikers don’t like my theory but the Quad is the most evolutionary vehicle. It requires a lot of care and respect. It has the smallest wheels and smallest shock so you have to be gentle be careful.