CC Chicherit and Przygonski lead Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after super special

News Release 9: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2009
Super Special Stage, Abu Dhabi - 2km

For immediate release
Sunday March 22nd, 2009


· Gaugain leads 450cc bike class; UAE's Al Shamsi on top in the quads

ABU DHABI (UAE): Professional X-raid driver Guerlain Chicherit, Poland's Jakub Przygonski and the UAE's Mohammed Al Shamsi were the early leaders of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2009, after the opening two-kilometre super special stage in Abu Dhabi on Sunday afternoon.

The trio will now lead their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories into the first 270.60km desert special stage between Al Dhafra and the finish on the road to Liwa, near the Humeem road in Abu Dhabi's Empty Quarter, on Monday.

Several hundred spectators gathered near the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi to see event chairman Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA Vice President of Sport and the President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), flag 24 cars, 33 bikes, 11 quads and one truck into the short opening section that determined the starting order for Monday's all-important first selective section.

Also present were His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al-Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), and Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General Tourism Operations of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, representing the major sponsor of this year's event, which the emirate hopes will bolster its reputation as a world-renowned hub for international motor sport.

In the motorcycle category, Przygonski finished the stage just over two seconds ahead of South African rider Sean Gaugain, with Italy's Fabio Benetti in third position on his Kawasaki. Tactics came into play among the leading runners, with pre-event favourites, James West, Marc Coma and Cyril Despres, finishing the special near the rear of the field in 32nd, 42nd and 43rd places.

Chicherit and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner were over 11 seconds faster than the UAE's Ali Al Shawi and Ahmad Malik in the car category in their German-built BMW X3 CC. Maurizio Tragia and Fabian Lurquin set the third fastest time and will shadow the leading two teams into the opening stage on Monday.

Gaugain was also the fastest of the 450cc motorcycles and the UAE's Mohammed Al-Shamsi headed the quad section on his Honda TRX from fellow countryman Obaid Echtibi. The Emirati was also faster than any of his two-wheel rivals.

X-raid Russia driver Leonid Novitskiy withdrew through illness before event documentation and Qatar's Nasser Khalifa Al Attiyah was a second non-starter from the original car entry list.

The 69 competitive machines that did complete the super special stage will be flagged away from the official start at the landmark Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi from 09.30hrs on Monday morning. Invited guests will join Mohammed Ben Sulayem to see off the international field, before teams head into the first of five punishing desert selective sections across the emirate's Empty Quarter.

The 2009 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has the backing of key players, including the event's title sponsor, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), Nissan, ADNOC, Beach Rotana - Abu Dhabi, etisalat, Explorer, Hertz, Lambda Electronics, Oasis Water, TAG Heuer and the ADIMSC.

Leading positions after Super Special stage (2km): unofficial

1. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC   2m 11.55s
2. Ali Al Shawi (UAE)/Ahmad Malik ((UAE) Nissan Patrol   2m 23.41s
3. Maurizio Traglia (I)/Fabian Lurquin (F) Nissan Pathfinder   2m 24.51s
4. Glenn Reid (UAE)/Paul Richards (UAE) Honda Buggy   2m 26.91s
5. Nabil Al Shamsi (UAE)/Arif Yousef (UAE) Nissan Patrol   2m 28.91s
6. Matar Al Mansouri (UAE)/Rabab Al Tajir (UAE) Nissan Patrol  2m 29.66s
7. Abdul Bari Bin Soughat (UAE)/Ali Mirza (UAE) Nissan Patrol  2m 29.72s

Bikes - overall
1. Jakub Przygonski (PL) KTM 690 R   2m 11.44s
2. Sean Gaugain (ZA) Honda CRF 450X   2m 14.10s
3. Fabio Benetti (I) Kawasaki KLX 450   2m 15.22s
4. Paulo Ceci (I) Aprilia RXV Africa    2m 16.35s
5. Simon Pavey (AUS) Honda CRF 450   2m 17.08s
6. Mark Ackerman (ZA) KTM 450 R    2m 18.59s

1. Mohammed Al Shamsi (UAE) Honda TRX  2m 05.87s
2. Obaid Echtibi (UAE) Honda TRX    2m 10.30s
3. Razvan Iremescu (RO) Yamaha Raptor   2m 10.90s
4. Rafal Sonik (PL) Honda TRX 700    2m 12.56s

Spectator information
Monday, March 23rd
Start SS1: 10.35 - turn right off the truck road, 7.3kms from the Coast Highway, then drive for 10.5kms.
Viewpoint at underpass: 11.15 - Underpass 22kms south of pyramid.
PC2 Service; 12.05 - 18kms east of Humeem road, turn off near White Sands shop
Finish SS1: 13.45 - just east of Humeem road.
Bivouac: 15.00 - Tal Mureeb bivouac.

Note to editors:
Progress of competitors through each of the event's five desert stages can be monitored from Monday morning with the following tracking system:


Updated results and unofficial PC positions and times can be found throughout each leg on the following results site:





Date issued: 22/03/2009

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