Dubai International Baja Second stage: Al Qudra Desert Link section: 32.56 km - Special: 174.20 km – Link section: 31.63 km - Total: 238.39 km
This morning, the wind was whistling across the crests of the dunes in the Al Qudra desert but the sun was shining as the participants set off for this second day of the Dubai International Baja. A notable absentee this morning under the arch was Sam Sunderland, who chose to withdraw rather than leave the door open to the other competitors.
Mark Ackerman (Husqvarna) seized his chance, going all out and taking the third Special. “Today”, he explained, “the Special was really technical, especially with the gusts of wind that caught us off balance, but I managed to catch Benjamin Melot. He was riding fast and I just had to hang on to his coat tails to win the special. I am really happy with my performance!”
This feat enabled the rider from South Africa to take first place on the leader board and win the Dubai International Baja with a lead of 29 seconds over Benjamin Melot (KTM 500EXC). “It was more or less the same itinerary as yesterday, but more difficult because of the weather”, observed the Frenchman. “It was great for me to win yesterday’s stage but today I came second, unfortunately. That’s racing, and I really had a great time!”
Just 7’29 adrift of the winner, Al Balooshi (KTM) took third place. “I was a bit tired after yesterday and I didn’t feel comfortable on the bike”, he admits, “but that’s no excuse. The guys in front attacked hard and, with the lack of visibility, I didn’t want to take any more risks. Now I shall be focusing on the next Rally, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.”
So the first win in the first event of the FIM Bajas World Cup goes to Mark Ackerman ahead of Mohammed Al Balooshi and Alessandro Ruoso (KTM).
In fourth position, Mohammed Jaffar (KTM) is followed by David McBride (KTM), Tim Trenker (Husqvarna) and Shannon O’Connor (KTM).
In quad, the victor is Fahad al Musalam ahead of Humaid Almashghouni and the incredible Camelia Liparoti who takes the third step of the podium and the laurels in the women’s category. “I am really happy to come third in this first FIM Baja of the season”, says Camelia. “It was tough to beat the locals and I had to dig deep. I wasn’t born in the desert, unlike the local guys who know how to find their way through the dunes! But I’m proud to be the first European woman to have left all the Kazakhs behind. Today, I didn’t push too hard. It was dangerous as we were retracing our tracks from yesterday and the cars had ploughed up the landings after the dunes. Several times my quad had two wheels in the air and I couldn’t keep control. Anyway, I’m not tired and I can’t wait to get out into the dunes again on my quad!”
The first Baja of the FIM World Cup is over and everyone agrees that it was a fabulous event that gives novices a chance to race in the desert, get to know the road book and the GPS and try their hand at navigation in a safe environment with excellent organisation.
See you again soon for new adventures in Abu Dhabi in early April!
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. 5 ACKERMAN M. 4:15:50.0
2. 9 MELOT B. 4:16:19.0
3. 3 AL BALOOSHI M. 4:23:19.0
4. 7 RUOSO A. 4:31:03.0
5. 8 MESHARI M. 4:35:52.0
6. 2 MCBRIDE D. 4:36:59.0
7. 11 TRENKER T. 4:46:36.0
8. 6 O'CONNOR S. 4:49:48.0
9. 203 AL MUSALLAM F. 4:52:53.0
10. 21 KHAMIS OZAIR K. 4:52:56.0
PROVISIONAL FIM 450CC OVERALL STANDINGS
1. 5 ACKERMAN M. 4:15:50.0
2. 3 AL BALOOSHI M. 4:23:19.0
3. 7 RUOSO A. 4:31:03.0
4. 8 JAFFAR M. 4:35:52.0
5. 2 MCBRIDE D. 4:36:59.0
6. 11 TRENKER T. 4:46:36.0
7. 6 O'CONNOR S. 4:49:48.0
8. 21 KHAMIS OZAIR K. 4:52:56.0
9. 10 LUCCHESE M. 5:00:29.0
10. 22 DUNN C. 5:09:09.0
FIM QUAD PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. 203 AL MUSALLAM F. 4:52:53.0
2. 202 ALMASHGHOUNI H. 5:10:58.0
3. 201 LIPAROTI C. 5:56:10.0
4. 206 BAIZHIYENOV T. 6:53:25.0
5. 207 SOLOKHA K. 6:59:35.0