Mohammed Jaffar wins round four of the Emirates Desert Championship to close the gap to series leader Ross Runnalls.

Following a two month mid-season break since the previous event in November 2015, the Emirates Desert Championship, the UAE’s National Baja series, returned with round four on Friday 12th February 2016.

After dominating the early rounds, taking three wins from three starts; South African Ross Runnalls looked set to do the same at round four. He led the race early on, but pushed his Kawasaki too hard and blew his engine on the penultimate lap.

Runnalls' premature retirement opened the door for the Red Bull backed pair of Mohammed Jaffar from Kuwait and Mohammed Al Balooshi of the UAE to take the top two steps on the podium. Briton Olly Eveleigh completed an all KTM podium.

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Having just taken the E1 and E2 Class wins in the 2015-16 Qatar International Endurocross Championship, their results at round four of the Emirates Desert Championship leaves both Jaffar and Al Balooshi with a realistic chance of taking the UAE title as well. However the championship is still Runnalls’ to lose. With 25 points up for grabs for the win, Runnalls holds a six point lead over Jaffar and an 11 point lead over Al Balooshi.

“Last season, I lost the championship by 1 point at the final round to Jake Shipton, and I can see this year being just as tight,” said Al Balooshi, “All we can do is ride as best as we can and hope for some luck, but with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge taking place three weeks later, I won’t be taking too many risks”.

In the other classes, Emirati Khalifa Al Remeithi took the Masters win, Briton Steve Blackney won Over 450, Emirati Saif Al Kumliti was first in Marathon, and Austrian Dana Miskulnig was top in the Ladies Cup.

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The quad class is proving to be the most open of the season, with round four seeing a fourth rider take a race win. Saudi rider Abdulmajeed Al Khulaifi took the honours on the day to join Emiratis Mohammed Al Shamsi and Mansoor Al Suwaidi, and Qatari Mohammed Abu Issa as a race winner this season. 

Al Suwaidi leads the championship going into the final round; however as final championship standings only takes into account a riders best four of five events, the championship could still mathematically be won by the top seven riders.

The final round of the championship will take place on Friday 4th May 2016. It is hoped that many international guest riders will take part as part of their preparation for the 26th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, taking place from the 31st March to the 7th April 2016 as the opening round of the 2016 FIM World Championship for Cross Country Rallies.

The Emirates Desert Championship, the UAE’s national baja series for cars, buggies, motorcycles and quads, is organised by the Emirates Motorsport Federation (EMSF) with the support of the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) and the UAE Motorcycle Club (UAEMC).

Photos: Wayne Gray