Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Toyota and Honda going from strength to strength

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The winners of the prologue in the car and motorbike categories successfully navigated the first stage of the ADDC, held on a never-seen-before course, and stayed in control of the race following the opener.

Toyota dominated the car stage, with Nasser Al Attiyah preceding Yazeed Al Rajhi and Henk Lategan. Meanwhile, at BRX, Sébastien Loeb failed to finish the special due to a mechanical and Guerlain Chicherit withdrew from the race after falling ill in the dunes.

Just like yesterday, Pablo Quintanilla prevailed over Adrien Van Beveren in the motorbike stage. The two Honda riders continue to top the leader board, with Toby Price third overall.


Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) was probably braced for a fierce competition with his main rivals for the championship. The overall leader, Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme), ground down to a standstill with coolant hose issues a mere 39 kilometres into the race.

His subsequent withdrawal from the race spells the end of his ADDC title challenge and echoed his nightmare from last year, when he also had to throw in the towel on day one. However, this time round, his Qatari rival was not kind enough to follow him down the boulevard of broken dreams!

Instead, Guerlain Chicherit, the other Prodrive entrant, who had been close behind the factory Hilux at the first checkpoint, also ran into serious trouble. The Frenchman had to stop several times following a bout of "sea sickness"… in a sea of dunes.

In the end, he decided to quit the race despite finishing the stage in third place overall. Toyota scored a clean sweep, with the three Hilux drivers, Nasser Al Attiyah, Yazeed Al Rajhi and Henk Lategan, hogging the top 3 in the stage and the general standings.

In the T3 category, Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA) outgunned his teammate Austin Jones. The world championship leader produced a gutsy ride to take the runner-up's spot. Although there were valuable points on the line, the American rushed to the aid of his teammate Cristina Gutiérrez (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) without thinking twice after she ran out of fuel.

Mattias Ekström, who held second place in the category for much of the stage, shared the Spaniard's fate. Meanwhile, Rokas Baciuška (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) grabbed the T4 stage.

Pau Navarro (FN Speed), who came in just over 5 minutes behind the stage winner and provisional leader, is shaping up to be his arch-rival in this round.

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Pablo Quintanilla and his teammate Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda), the fastest men in yesterday's prologue, were untouchable again today.

The Chilean bagged the special with two minutes to spare over the Frenchman, with Ross Branch (Hero MotoSports) in third place at 3′14″ down. Another Honda rider, "Nacho" Cornejo, posted the fourth fastest time at 4′16″.

Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came in fifth at 4′37″. In the general standings following stage 1, adding the times in today's special to those in the prologue, which were multiplied by a coefficient of 8 in accordance with the championship rules, Quintanilla is 2′16″ ahead of "VBA" and 5′17″ clear of Price.

Branch is fourth, a meagre 3 seconds behind the factory KTM rider. In the Rally2 competition, Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing) took over the reins of the race from Konrad Dąbrowski (Duust Diverse Racing), 5 minutes back today. The Pole is still within 2 minutes of the Italian in the rankings. Jean-Loup Lepan (Duust Diverse Racing) is third in the provisional W2RC standings at 8′35″.

Toni Mulec (BAS World KTM Racing) also ran out of petrol before the refuelling station and is now fourth, 35 minutes behind the leader. Abdulaziz Ahli hit the ground running in the quad race, putting over twenty minutes into Rodolfo Guillioli in both the stage and the overall.

Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Laisvydas Kancius is almost 45 minutes down on the Emirati after screeching to a halt.