Emirates Desert Championship Returns from Hiatus for Round 3


The Emirates Desert Championship, the UAE’s national baja rally championship for cars, buggies, motorcycles and quads, returns on Friday 20th January 2017 for Round Three following a break over new years.

A total entry of over 85 vehicles across all classes will compete in the third event of the five round series, which enters a busy period with Round Four scheduled for Friday 3rd February and the fifth and final round scheduled for Friday 17th February.

Lt season’s motorcycle champion, Ross Runnalls heads the entry list and returns to competition following a serious hand injury suffered during the second round back in November, and will be keen to make up for lost ground in the championship race. While Runnall’s fellow South African Josh Brodalka took the win in Round Two, it is Emirati hero Mohammed Al Balooshi who currently leads the championship following podium placing in each of the two opening events.

One rider who will not be taking part in this event is Sam Sunderland, who won the opening event in October and has just returned to Dubai following his amazing victory in this year’s Dakar Rally, becoming the first Briton to ever win the event.

“What Sam achieved is truly amazing, and we in the UAE motorsport community are all extremely proud of him”, said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) and Chairman of the Emirates Motor Sport federation (EMSF).

“When Sam came here to the UAE almost ten years, he was just another promising young motocross rider. Now he is the 2017 Dakar Champion, and was second in the 2016 FIM World Championship. I would encourage all young riders to look at him as a role model and see that anything is possible with hard work and dedication”, concluded Ben Sulayem.

Having just returned back from a grueling two weeks in South America, Sunderland will sit out this event and hopefully return to the Emirates Desert Championship for Rd 4 in February.

Elsewhere, Obaid Al Kitbe leads the quad class with a second and a first in the opening two rounds, while Dana Miskulnig and Sune Schaffler are level points in the Ladies Cup. Due to Schaffler’s absence as a result of a collarbone injury, Miskulnig should move into the lead if she avoids any problems on this event.

In the Car and Buggy categories, former FIA Middle East Rally Champion Sh. Hamad Al Thani of Qatar leads the Overall Auto classification, while Briton Ryan Trutch currently holds a narrow two point lead over compatriot Tom Bell, with both racing Polaris RZR 1000s.

The Emirates Desert Championship is organized by the ATCUAE and EMSF. Round Three will take place in the Al Faqa’a region of Dubai, just north of the border with Abu Dhabi along the Al Ain Road. Racing starts at 08:30, lasting for two hours. All spectators are welcome to attend.