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.
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.”
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
|15||25||Paul SPIERINGS JR.||Husqvarna||22h16m03s||5h24m52s||4|
|21||7||Mohammed AL BALOOSHI||KTM||3|