Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren is the winner of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, after the conclusion of the race today. This was the second victory of this rider for the Monster Energy Honda Team, since Adrien also won last year the Andalucia Rally. Chilean José Ignacio Cornejo was fourth overall just two seconds away from the podium and American Ricky Brabec finished in 7th place.
With this outcome, Van Beveren gets into second position in the World Rally Raid Championship ranking with 42 points – just four behind the present leader.
The fifth and last stage from the rally made the connection between Qasr Al Sarab and Abu Dhabi with a Special Stage of 206 kilometers long added by a liaison of 164 km. José Ignacio Cornejo was today the best rider of the team with a second place (2:12 minutes gap), while Van Beveren was 5th (3:22 minutes gap) and Ricky Brabec was 6th (4:35 minutes gap).
In the Manufacturers ranking from the World Rally Raid Championship – where the brand is the defending World Champion – Honda is now in second place with 75 points, nine points from the leader and still with many points to conquer in the three races that complete this year’s calendar.
Now the championship will be on stand-by until the end of April. The third race of this year’s calendar is a first run – the Mexico Sonora Rally (22-28 April). Until then, Monster Energy Honda Team will keep the focus on the intense preparation for this next race, always thinking ahead of a major goal: the Dakar Rally.
“I have to make a positive general balance from this Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, although it was a pity that Pablo Quintanilla had to leave the race yesterday when he was fighting for the lead. José Ignacio Cornejo lost today the podium for just a tiny two seconds and this was a hard setback. But competition is like this and we have to move forward. I have to congratulate all the riders by their performance and dedication. Now the focus is the next round of the World Championship, the Sonora Rally in Mexico.”
Adrien Van Beveren
“It feels really good to win, for me as a rider and also for the team that invested in me. It was a bit frustrating not to be in the podium in the last Dakar being so close. Now coming here and winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge just some weeks after the Dakar is a great feeling. This is very important for me and for the team to keep the motivation. For sure I will keep on working to get more victories but now is time to taste and enjoy the moment. Really happy with the atmosphere and spirit in the team, it is fantastic when you can win and have fun at the same time.”
José Ignacio Cornejo
“Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is over and today I did a good stage, but unfortunately this was not enough to assure a podium position. Today it was a true battle out there and we did our best to ride fast and safe. So I go home with a fourth place and happy with my Honda CRF 450 Rally and happy with the way I felt day by day. I am also happy for the team and for Adrian’s win.”
“We made it to the finish of Stage five, first of all congrats for the all team. I am glad I made it to the end in one piece. Now we will take the positives and the negatives home with us and work on it to improve in the future. The next race is almost in my backyard so let’s try to win it. Now I also want to thank the whole team for their constant and amazing support.”