Al Fahim and Al Shamsi out to reclaim titles this season.
Dubai, UAE, 11 October, 2015: The opening round of the 2015-16 Emirates Desert Championship, the national baja series for cars, buggies, motorcycles and quads, kicked off with an excellent entry of 108 vehicles racing across all classes.
Despite soaring autumn temperatures and challenging terrain, Khalid Al Jafla outlined his title ambitions with a maiden victory in the AUTO category, with Ali Matar Al Ketbi in second on his event debut and Michel Fadel in third place.
In the BUGGY category, split this year from the AUTO category, Ahmed Al Fahim showed his intent to regain the title he lost to his teammate Ahmad Al Maqoodi last season by dominating the race from start to finish. Al Maqoodi was not racing this round due to other commitments but will be hoping to race at Round 2 in a fortnight’s time. Al Fahim was followed by the British pair of Nick Massey and Tom Jackson in second and third respectively.
Like Al Fahim, Mohammed Al Shamsi was another competitor desperate to regain a title they won in the opening season in 2013-14, and he took advantage of his main title rival Humaid Al Mashgouni being absent due to injury to record maximum points in the QUAD class.
South African Ross Runnalls entertained the spectators on the day with fast laps and huge jumps through the dunes as he won the opening MOTO race of the season. Kuwaiti Mohammed Jaffar was second and 2013-14 Champion Sean Gaugain was third. While he will be eager to repeat this success in two weeks’ time, Runnalls is likely to face a much greater challenge with the return of last season’s runner up Mohammed Al Balooshi and Sam Sunderland, who missed this event due to competing in the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship event in Morocco. Sunderland won the Rally Du Maroc in spectacular fashion to record his opening victory in a World Championship event.
“It was a great start to the season and it is very rewarding for us as the organisers to see how much the competitors had been eagerly awaiting the start of the season”, said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem. “We had 105 vehicles start the race which was an improvement from the opening round of last season, and would have been even higher had a few competitors not withdrawn before the event due to injuries”.
“In terms of grassroots motorsport, these bajas are perfect as they are low cost for the competitors and make free use of the UAE’s greatest asset; our beautiful desert. This season is already on course to be the best yet.
Competitors will not have to wait too long for Round 2 of the series which is set to take place on Friday 23rd October 2015, at a yet to be disclosed location. With many competitors confirmed to return to the series, that event may see record numbers entered to take part.
The Emirates Desert Championship is organized by the Emirates Motor Sport federation (EMSF) with the support of the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE).
Emirates Desert Championship Rd 1 Results
1 Khalid Al Jafla UAE Polaris
2 Ali Matar Al Ketbi UAE Nissan
3 Michel Fadel LBN Polaris
1 Ahmed Al Fahim UAE Polaris
2 Nick Massey UK Polaris
3 Tom Jackson UK Can Am
1 Ross Runnalls RSA Kawasaki
2 Mohammed Jaffar KUW KTM
3 Sean Gaugain RSA Husqvarna
1 Mohammed Al Shamsi UAE Kawasaki
2 Mohammad Al Khulaifi KUW Yamaha
3 Mansoor Al Suwaidi UAE Yamaha