Al Attiyah and Loeb are to the World Raids what Real Madrid and Barcelona to LaLiga. Put another way, the championship battle between the two drivers has become a classic who will play his second assault during the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (from February 26 to March 3). The second round of the W2RC calendar brings together the top contenders for a title defended by the Qatari in a scenario where, a priori, the Toyota driver should impose dominance on him in the middle of nowhere. During the Dakar Nasser already referred to the Empty Quarter as the “patio of my house”, but it is well known that in this type of matches it is never worth making predictions. Above all due to the demands of a desert that is much more unpredictable than any other pitch.
With the return of the pilots in the dunes of the Empty Quarter, Al Attiyah’s rematch will begin this time from the other side of the Saudi border, in Abu Dhabi. The Qatari (85) arrives with two points behind against a Loeb (87) who took command of the classification after a Dakar where he chained a record of six consecutive victories, which were relevant enough to leave Nasser without the lead despite adding his fifth Touareg in that mythical raid, which has also left other rivals to consider for the crown. It is clear that except for surprise they will not be the main actors, but Chicherit and Al Rajhi also want to be happy. Especially in the case of the Saudi, who with 19 points expects a good performance to come back in the championship.
In order to meet the objectives, a total of 1285 kilometers of timed in an edition that is presented as the most demanding of all those that the ADDC has played. The organizer has tried to raise the level of difficulty in the middle of a desert where the category of Christina Gutierrez, T3, will be the one that gathers the most teams with a total of 24. That of the Spanish will remain Red Bull Can-Am along with the Dakar champion Austin Jones, Seth Quintero and Mitch Guthrie Jr, while there is a relevant name that will change its structure. ekstrom changes passes from the rows of Audi to those of South Racing Can-Am, with the aim of continuing to gain experience in a scenario with which you are becoming more familiar.
Kevin Benavides, notably absent
Despite kevin benavides He does have significant baggage in the desert, the loss of the Argentine has nothing to do with that experience. The winner of the Dakar will be the great absence of the ADDC for a femur fracture of which he was successfully intervened on Thursday, that not only prevents him from participating in the second appointment on the calendar but also, it also compromises your aspirations in the fight for the World Cup. With no return date, he will not be the only participant who misses KTM, as Walkner continues to recover from the wrist injury he suffered during the mythical raid and therefore, Price will be the sole representative in the official structure of the Austrian brand.
The Australian has everything to face to take the lead, in the hands of Benavides with eight points ahead, as well as palpable confidence: “Things are looking pretty good. for Abu Dhabi. I feel good and wanting to start”, assured Price, who will once again have pilots like rivals Brabec. The American returns after missing the Dakar, something he was going to do Sunderland, but fractured his right tibia in a previous test and you will miss the appointment that comes after a Dakar that in a certain way Husqvarna dominated with howes and Luciano, the other favorites in the roster of big names that complete for Honda Van Beveren, Cornel and Quintanilla.