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Emirates Desert Championship reaches culmination this weekend

posted on 04/03/2016: 1750 views

The final round of the 2015-16 Emirates Desert Championship, the UAE's national Baja rally series for cars, buggies, motorcycles and cars, takes place this coming Friday, 4th March, in the Lisaili region of Dubai.

"It has been a fantastic season, and it is great to see so many championship battles coming down to the final event. I know that all the competitors have enjoyed racing this season, as much as we have enjoyed organising the events. I hope all have a safe end to the season", said ATCUAE and EMSF President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Over 90 vehicles will take part, with all championships and classes still up for grabs. In the cars, Emiratis Ali Matar Al Ketbi and Khalid Al Jahla are essentially tied on points going into the final round, with the victor on this event being crowned champion. Both Al Ketbi and Al Jafla hold comfortable leads in the T1 and T3 classes respectively, so each will at least have a class title as a consolation should they finish second overall in this event.

In the buggies, Emirati Ahmed Al Fahim is set to regain the title he won in the inaugural 2013-14 season as nearest rival Nick Massey has been forced to miss the final round due to work commitments. It is now mathematically impossible for Al Fahim's Polaris Racing Team UAE teammate Mohammed Gulzar, currently third in the standings, to catch him, although Gulzar will still hope to overhaul Massey for second place overall.

In the motorcycles, after wins in the first three rounds, it had appeared that South African rider Ross Runnalls was destined for the title this year, but a blown engine in the previous round has opened the door for Kuwaiti Mohammed Jaffar and Emirati Mohammed Al Balooshi. However, the two Red Bull and KTM backed riders will still rely on Runnalls having bad luck to be able to overtake him in the rankings.

Among the other motorcycle classes, Briton Steve Blackney has a comfortable lead in the Over 450cc class, former Finnish Rally Champion Janne Tuohino leads the Masters class from nearest rival David McBride, and Brits Sam Smith and Tom Childs will have a close battle to decide the Marathon Class champion.

The Quad Class has proved to be one of the most interesting so far this season, with four different riders having taken victories in the opening four rounds. The championship fight is ultimately between three of those riders with Emirati Mansoor Al Suwaidi holding the lead by two points from Saudi Abdulmajeed Al Khulaifi. However, currently one point further back in third place in the vastly experienced Emirati Mohammed Al Shamsi, and he will be eager to regain the title he last held two seasons ago.

A number of competitors will be making their return to the championship at this final round, many with an eye towards next month's Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Reigning AUTO champion, Ahmad Al Maqoodi, will race for the first time this season in his T3 Polaris having been forced to step aside this year due to work commitments, while leading riders Sean Gaugain and Sam Sunderland both return from injuries that have side-lined them all season.

The Emirates Desert Championship is organised by the Emirates Motor Sport federation, EMSF, with the support of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, ATCUAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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