2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results

Following the Dakar Rally, anticipation quickly begins for the Cross Country Rallies World Championship. And this year’s six-round series got underway this week with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Four different riders claimed victories during the five-stage 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. But only one rider earned two stage wins: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla. And those two wins (stages two and four) helped the Chilean Husqvarna FR 450 Rally pilot take the overall victory.

Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla Wins Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Huskqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla

This was the best start for the defending Cross Country Rallies World Champion, who finished 5 minutes and 11 seconds ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland, the stage-three winner.

Although Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides didn’t claim any wins, his podium efforts earned him the final podium position, 8 minutes and 34 seconds behind Quintanilla.

As for the other stage winners, KTM’s Toby Price won stage one, and KTM’s Matthias Walkner, the 2018 Dakar Rally winner, stage two.

The Cross Country Rallies Championship continues April 15-20 with the Merzouga Rally on April 15/20.

Following his winning result in the United Arab Emirates, Quintanilla will be joined at the Merzouga Rally in Morocco by his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team partner Andrew Short, a former Supercross rider.

“I’m really happy to get the win in Abu Dhabi and it’s been a fantastic start to the new season,” Pablo Quintanilla says. “This year’s Desert Challenge has been a really tough race from the beginning until the end. During these last few days we battled through extreme heat and the massive sand dunes of the area.

“There were many high-speed tracks and lots of off-piste sections where navigation was crucial. We also had some great fights with my main competitors and I’m happy I came out on top.

“I would like to thank all the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team for the amazing job they did during this week. They are always by my side and this helps me achieve the results I want. It feels good to start the season with a victory and I’m looking forward to the events to come.”

Husqvarna FR 450 Rally Pilot Pablo Quintanilla
Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla

As for the sole American riding in the 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec finished sixth, just under 21 minutes behind Quintanilla.

2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Final Overall Standings

Rank No Rider Country Manufacturer Time Delay Points
1 1 Pablo QUINTANILLA CHL Husqvarna 16h51m11s 30
2 5 Sam SUNDERLAND GBR KTM 16h56m22s 05m11s 24
3 2 Kévin BENAVIDES ARG Honda 16h59m45s 08m34s 19
4 3 Matthias WALKNER AUT KTM 17h00m47s 09m36s 17
5 4 Paulo GONÇALVES PRT Honda 17h09m46s 18m35s 14
6 11 Ricky BRABEC USA Honda 17h11m57s 20m46s 13
7 6 Toby PRICE AUS KTM 17h20m56s 29m45s 13
8 14 Cornejo JOSE CHL Honda 17h21m16s 30m05s 11
9 12 Michael METGE FRA Honda 17h29m30s 38m19s 10
10 27 Benjamin MELOT FRA KTM 19h06m48s 2h15m37s 9
11 8 David MCBRIDE GBR KTM 19h08m23s 2h17m12s 8
12 24 Max HUNT GBR Husqvarna 19h26m37s 2h35m26s 7
13 17 Richard BREWER NLD Yamaha 19h56m14s 3h05m03s 6
14 9 David MABBS GBR KTM 20h57m31s 4h06m20s 5
15 25 Paul SPIERINGS JR. NLD Husqvarna 22h16m03s 5h24m52s 4
16 22 Benjamin YOUNG AUS KTM 24h18m44s 7h27m33s 4
17 26 Martien JIMMINK NLD Husqvarna 26h56m01s 10h04m50s 4
18 23 Marcel PIEK NLD Husqvarna 44h19m08s 27h27m57s 4
19 18 James WEST GBR Yamaha 57h09m17s 40h18m06s 4
20 10 Maciej GIEMZA POL KTM 63h37m42s 46h46m31s 4
21 7 Mohammed AL BALOOSHI ARE KTM 3
22 19 Kurt BURROUGHS GBR KTM 3
23 20 Neil PENTLAND GBR KTM 3