Al-Attiyah and Loeb set for rematch at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge –


It’s not just the Dakar in the world of rally-raid! The Specialty World Championship (W2RC), set up in 2022 by Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and Motorcycling Federation (FIM) are gearing up for the second round of the season from March 5 to 10. After the Saudi desert, it’s time for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

The second stage of the W2RC is a regular meeting place for sand enthusiasts. Indeed, it will be the 31st edition, the oldest event among the FIA ​​and FIM series (ex-World Cups). Compared to the Dakar, the opposing forces remain more or less identical.

Auto

In the Auto category, the fight will be great between Nasser Al-Attiyah-Mathieu Baumel (Toyota) and Sébastien Loeb-Fabian Lurquin (Bahrain Raid Xtreme). Having arrived in this order at the Dakar 2022 after a battle lasting nearly two weeks, the Qatari driver and the winner of the last Rallye Monte-Carlo are held within just one point in the general classification (85 pts for the crew of the Toyota Hilux and 84 pts for the BRX Hunter duo).

READ ALSO > Al-Attiyah wins the 2022 Dakar

The official Audi team, still dissecting the data collected on a successful Dakar (4 stage victories) reduced the sails to a hybrid RS Q e-tron (not registered in the W2RC). This will be assigned to Stéphane Peterhansel-Édouard Boulanger and should give the thermal 4×4s of the T1+ class a hard time.

Speaking of thermal engines, Yazeed Al-Rajhi-Michael Orr (Toyota) will do the show, as will Jakub Przygonski-Timo Gottschalk (Mini JCW Buggy). The French hopes will not rest only on Baumel or Loeb because the independents Mathieu Serradori and Loïc Minaudier will try to play the spoilsports aboard the Century CR6 buggy of the small but ambitious structure SRT.

T3

As for the light prototypes (T3), the Red Bull Off Road Junior Team will be a scarecrow. The winners of the 2021 World Cup, Cristina Gutiérrez-François Cazalet, will want to capitalize on their third place in the Dakar. Seth Quintero-Dennis Zenz have not forgotten their incredible series of 11 scratch times and will have in the corner of their heads the idea of ​​continuing their momentum.

Absent due to Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia, Mitch Guthrie Jr will return with Ola Floene. Too soon forced to retire from the Dakar, Guillaume de Mévius, navigated by Tom Colsoul, will want to continue his rally-raid apprenticeship.

However, the T3 favorite will be Francisco Lopez Contardo (South Racing). On his Can-Am,  »Chaleco », winner with mastery of the Dakar, returns with the Italian Paolo Ceci as co-driver. A PH Sport Zephyr will make the trip for Frenchmen Jean-Luc Pisson Ceccaldi and Laurent Lichtleuchter.

SSV

Revelation of the SSV (T4) in the Dakar thanks to his third place on the occasion of his very first rally-raid, the rallycross specialist Rokas Baciuska (South Racing) will try to carve cruppers from Austin Jones (Can-Am Factory). The two men will race the Can-Am Maverick XRS, as will a certain Conrad Rautenbach. But yes, the Zimbabwean specialist in freestyle figures on private Citroën Xsaras and C4s in the WRC!

>>Entry List W2RC Auto/T3/SSV

Motorbike

There will be 14 motorcyclists registered with the W2RC aiming for victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: GasGas, which won its first Dakar thanks to Sam Sunderland in the penultimate stage, will open the track with the Briton. His teammate Daniel Sanders will be forfeited following his fall in January (broken arm).

Yamaha Motor Europe having announced the stoppage of its team, Adrien van Beveren will ignore it. On the other hand, Ross Branch will be present under its new colors, those of Hero Motorsports, which recorded its first stage success this winter at the Dakar. Honda will not make the trip empty with Ricky Brabec, Pablo Quintanilla and Ignacio Cornejo.

The mastodon of the category, KTM, will wear the number 1 thanks to Kevin Benavides. Experts Toby Price and Matthias Walkner will be his acolytes.

>>List of W2RC Moto entries



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