Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi welcomes the start of the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship.

The 28th edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge sees defending Rally World Champion, Pablo Quintanilla, with the number one plate and two world titles to defend.

“It's good to start the season with the number one on my Husqvarna's plate.” Said Quintanilla. “As this is the first rally of the year, it's an important race for everyone. It will be difficult, but the season is long and my goal is to make a good pace to be in the leading group. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is not an easy rally, because it runs a lot off-piste, in huge dunes, and we will have very high temperatures."


Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge pablo.quintanilla Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Future7Media


Chilean, Quintanilla, will defend his world title without the support of team-mate Andrew Short who’s still recovering from a tibia-fibula fracture at the Dakar in January.

As ever the KTM line-up is a strong one and includes the previous three victors in the Dakar rally: Toby Price, Sam Sunderland and 2018 winner Matthias Walkner. All are obvioulsy capable of winning in Abu Dhabi, Sunderland in particular will be keen as mustard to make amends for just missing out on the Cross Country Rallies world title in recent years.

 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Redbull KTM Rally 2018 Enduro21 560
Photo Credit: Future7Media


The ADDC entry list is littered with riders capable of winning the Cross Country Rallies title including Honda’s Kevin Benavides who also narrowly missed victory in 2017.

Paulo Gonçalves makes a return from the injury which put him out of the Dakar alongside Ricky Brabec and Michael Metge.

Honda will also run new Junior rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo, who replaced Gonçalves at the Dakar and returned an impressive top 10. His reward was a place in the factory team.


Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Jose Cornejo Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Team HRC Rally


Riders take the official start on Saturday, March 24 with a super special stage, starting at 15.00hrs. The 15 fastest riders then choose their starting positions for the first real desert special stage the following day.

The second stage of the ADDC heads into the Liwa Desert where five intense days of racing will take place in the dunes and a purpose-built bivouac has been built that will host the event for four nights. The event will finish on Thursday, March 29 back at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

More info and results on: ADDC



jon.pearson enduro21 april 2017

Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester