Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge took the field on a loop around the heart of the Liwa desert. The sun-scorched course stretched for 250 kilometres, roughly half of which were in the dunes. It was the first half of the marathon stage for the FIM entrants. Luciano Benavides emerged victorious from the motorbike special, while Adrien Van Beveren rocketed up to the top of the standings ahead of his fellow Honda rider, Pablo Quintanilla, and the stage winner for Husqvarna. Another Honda representative, Nacho Cornejo, sits fourth overall, a single second behind the Argentinian. Meanwhile, Nasser Al Attiyah could have taken a conservative approach to the car race, but instead of that he trounced Yazeed Al Rajhi and Ford's Martin Prokop. The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver padded his overall lead on the Saudi in the ADDC.
FIM: VBA THE MVP
The Honda duo charged with opening the way today, Quintanilla and Van Beveren, came in ninth and fifth in the special but remain in control of the general standings, with the Frenchman bumping the Chilean from the lead of the ADDC by 1′30″. Luciano Benavides claimed the special and rode his Husqvarna into third place overall, 3′27″ behind VBA. Nacho Cornejo, second today at 1′17″, now sits fourth overall, with a single second separating Honda from a 100% red podium in the provisional standings! Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) slipped from third to sixth overall, almost 4 minutes back, after finishing eighth on the day. The race is still extremely close. Skyler Howes is eighth at under 6 minutes down. In the Rally2 category, Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing) prevailed by 8′23″ over the rookie Tobias Ebster (SRG Motorsports). He also put some time into Jean-Loup Lepan (Duust Diverse Racing), Toni Mulec (BAS World KTM Racing) and Konrad Dąbrowski (Duust Diverse Racing). The Italian is over 14 minutes clear of Dąbrowski and almost 15 minutes ahead of Lepan in the W2RC standings for the race. In the quad category, Laisvydas Kancius ended Abdulaziz Ahli's victorious streak with a win by just under 2 minutes. However, the Emirati remains firmly in control of the general standings, where he leads the Lithuanian by nearly 42 minutes and Rodolfo Guillioli by close to an hour. At the finish in the bivouac, as part of the marathon stage, the RallyGP riders were given half an hour to service their motorbikes without external support, while the Rally2 riders got an hour.
FIA: AL ATTIYAH SHOWS WHO'S BOSS
Yesterday, Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) saw Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme), his main rival in the fight for the world championship, tumble out of contention for the ADDC after withdrawing from the special. This morning, some were wondering whether the Qatari was going to drive conservatively, like he did in the second week of the Dakar, when he gave the Frenchman a clear run to pick up six consecutive stage wins and a harvest a bumper crop of points. Al Attiyah answered loud and clear, steamrolling the opposition and putting 7′47″ into Loeb and 12′14″ into Al Rajhi at the finish. However, once in the bivouac, the BRX driver was slapped with a 15-minute penalty for missing a waypoint during the special and a 50-hour penalty for swapping his engine overnight following yesterday's mechanical struggles, as set out in the rules and expected by the Prodrive team. Al Attiyah now leads Al Rajhi by 18′19″. Meanwhile, Mattias Ekström bounced back from yesterday's fuel exhaustion to clinch the T3 special and finish fifth in the overall stage, 18′30″ behind Al Attiyah. The Swede and the South Racing / Can-Am he picked for the ADDC proved stronger than the three Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA drivers, Seth Quintero (+ 2′41″), Austin Jones (+ 4′34″) and Mitch Guthrie (+ 4′34″). Quintero holds the overall lead by 9′41″ over Jones, with Aliyyah Koloc (Buggyra ZM Racing) third among the W2RC entrants. Meanwhile, Rokas Baciuška (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) grabbed the top W2RC spot in the T4 stage and put almost 4 minutes into Pau Navarro (FN Speed). The Lithuanian stayed in command of the overall by more than 9 minutes over the Catalan.