The fourth season of the Emirates Desert Championship, the UAE’s national Baja rally championship for motorcycles, cars, buggies and quads kicks off this coming Friday 14th October 2016 with the opening round taking place in Dubai.
Over the first three years of the series, the Emirates Desert Championship has grown to become the largest motorsport competition in the Gulf region in terms of entry numbers per event, and its success is easy to explain, according to Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the championship organizers, the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE).
“The whole objective of this championship is to appeal to both the amateur and professional competitors equally. The professional and semi-professional drivers and riders are happy because the events are perfect practice and training for regional and international competitions, like the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, while the amateurs are happy because the events are accessible and affordable, not to mention both safe and hugely enjoyable,” said Ben Sulayem.
Friday’s event will be the first of five rounds of the championship taking place this season, and last year’s champions will all be determined to retain their titles. Emirati Ahmed Al Fahim was last year’s buggy champion, while compatriot Khalid Al Jafla was crowned winner of the car competition.
Mansour Al Suweidi became the third different Emirati to win the quad title in three seasons, while South African Ross Runnalls was in dominant form to take the motorcycle title.
Runnalls will face stiff competition at round 1 with Sam Sunderland returning from Morocco where he last week secured runner up spot in the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship, while Mohammed Al Balooshi is back to full fitness and is a major threat for the title having finished runner up in both of the last two seasons.
The start of the new Emirates Desert Championship season takes place just after the encouraging news this week that a regional Baja series will be launched in 2017. The announcement was made in Dubai the previous Sunday, where Ben Sulayem was joined by representatives of the motorsport authorities from the other five GCC nations.
“With the Emirates Desert Championship already in place and thriving, this new Gulf Challenge series will provide the perfect next step for our competitors to go up to a regional level, but maintaining that objective of affordable and accessible racing.
“Once they are established at the regional level, they can then step up again to the World Championship status events, of which we already have several in the Gulf. This progression from national to regional to world is the key to sustainability and success,” concluded Ben Sulayem.
The race on Friday 14th October 2016 starts at 08:30am and runs for two hours with the Motorcycles and quads navigating a route of approximately 25kms and the cars and buggies on a separate route of approximately 20kms.
The Emirates Desert Championship is organised by the Emirates Motor Sport Federation (EMSF) with the support of the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE).