The Dubai International Baja got off to a sensational start on the dunes of the UAE, as a star-studded line-up took on the first leg of the rally.
Leg 1 of the Dubai International Baja covered a total of 310km, with 195km of a very technical Special Stage – the ENOC SS – in line with the partnership between organisers Emirates Motorsports Organisation and the Emirates National Oil Company Group.
The bikes were home first on Day 1 of the three-day event to mark the start of the National Day weekend celebrations, with Tobias Ebster topping the timesheets ahead of tomorrow’s final stage. Coming in second was Konrad Dabrowski, closely followed by Abdula Al Shatti.
Ebster, Bike No. 96, said: “Today was a good day. The dunes were very tricky, but we managed it well with some high speed on the tricky course, but it was well worth it.”
It was an action-packed day in the Auto category, as the championship goes down to the wire in Dubai. Overdrive Racing locked out the top three, as an all-toyota hilux line-up sealed the leader board.
Overdrive Racing, competing in the Toyota Hilux Overdrive, currently sit second in the constructor standings. Beyond that a host of high calibre drivers behind the wheel of Toyota vehicles across six teams, reinforcing the presence of the Dubai International Baja’s Official Automotive Partner, Al Futtaim-Toyota.
The two organisations are no strangers, having come together to deliver the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) earlier this year.
Top contender Yazeed Al Rajhi came home third on Day 1, behind Erik Van Loon, with new kid on the block Lucas Moraes in the top spot in an exciting turn of events for the Brazilian rookie.
“Yazeed is going for the world title so it was great to keep him behind me,” said Van Loon.
“My first desert race ever, so I am quite happy to get into the top 2 on a great day,” said Moraes. “It was very hard but it is great to finish my first one and the most important thing is to have fun!”
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi has dominated the 2022 FIA Cross Country Bajas, and just last season came out on top in the Dubai International Baja with a stunning drive. However, today saw the Saudi Arabian struggle with motion sickness, the kind of career first he didn’t want to encounter.
Despite, having to stop, Al Rajhi is still in the running with another day of racing to go.
“We had to halt as I had to be sick, but everything is under control and we are still going well,” said Al Rajhi after a gruelling day.
The oldest motorsport event in the UAE continues to bring twists and turns to championship battles. What’s more, the Dubai International Baja has returned this year with a modern twist, with Dubai Festival City as the backdrop to the traditional rally.
Organised by the Emirates Motorsport Organisation (EMSO), the governing body for over 140 motorsport events annually in the UAE, along with the continued support of the Dubai Government, the rally goes from strength to strength as it demands the most of the competitors.
The Dubai International Baja returns to the stage tomorrow, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai. The rally is supported by the Dubai Government, Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality, RTA, Dubai Customs, ENOC, Aquafina, and Dubai Media.
LEG 1 – Special Stage ENOC
- Lucas MORAES – Timo GOTTSCHALK (Toyota Hilux)
- Erik VAN LOON – Sebastien DELAUNAY (Toyota Hilux)
- Yazeed AL RAJHI – Dirk VON ZITZEWITZ (Toyota Hilux)
- Fernando ALVAREZ – Xavier PANSERI (CAN-AM Maverick)
- Dania AKEEL – Sergio LAFUENTE (CAN-AM Maverick)
- Thomas BELL – Gerhardus SCHUTTE (CAN-AM Maverick)
- Michal GOCZAL – Francois CAZALET (CAN-AM Maverick)
- Eryk GOCZAL – Oriol MENA (CAN-AM Maverick)
- Marek GOCZAL – Maciejk MARTON (CAN-AM Maverick)
- Tobias EBSTER ( Husqvarna FE 450cc)
- Konrad DABROWSKI (Husqvarna FR 450 Rally)
- Abdulla AL SHATTI (Kawasaki KXF 450)
- Abdulaziz AHLI (Yamaha YFZ)
- Abdulmajeed ALKHULAIFI (Yamaha Raptor 700 R)
- Faisal ALSUWAYH (Yamaha YFZ 450 R)