Doha, Qatar: Adel Abdulla continues his hectic start to the 2019 rallying season by taking part in the Dubai International Baja, round two of the new FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, this weekend (March 7-9).
Fresh from taking three stage wins, a Qatar Manateq National Baja victory and fifth in the T3 section at the recent Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally, Adel now switches his attention to the battle for T3 honours in the new Baja series that was separated from the longer cross-country events by the FIA at the end of 2018.
The Qatari was not able to take part in the opening round in Russia’s Republic of Karelia last month, but the former FIA T2 World Champion is relishing the prospect of competing for glory in Dubai in a bid to lay the foundations for an assault on a championship that will also visit Italy, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Jordan and Portugal later this season.
Adel is reunited with his French navigator Jean-Michel Polato for the second round of the series in Dubai, after taking part in Qatar with Spaniard Marc Serra. The pair will run Adel’s new Can-Am Maverick X3, which is being managed on events by the Spanish FN Speed Team and has support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).
Adel said: “I am looking forward to this race. It is the second round of the Baja Championship. I could not do the first one in Russia. It was a little bit tight for me in terms of the time schedule to do the Qatar Cross-Country Rally. We had some bad luck in Qatar, but I am sure we will do much better in Dubai.
“I know the car much better now as well. I am back together with Jean-Michel Polato. He could not do Qatar because of some personal commitments, but we are a good team together. I am proud to be working with the FN Speed Team again and hope that we get a good result. I did this race in 2017 and 2018 and have a little experience here. Okay, we did those races in a T2 car in a different category, but we will try to do our best. The challenge with the T3 is quite tough.
“I also say thanks to my sponsor Ooredoo, who have renewed my contract now for a third year. I am looking forward to representing them again and challenging for a good result.”
The Qatari faces stiff competition in Dubai from a host of T3 entrants, including Oman’s Abdullah Al-Zubair, Italy’s Michele Cinotto, Spain’s Santiago Navarro, Emirati Michel Fadel and the Russian driver Fedor Vorobeyev.
Cinotto claimed maximum T3 points in Russia and leads the series with 25 points. Al-Zubair is second on 18 and Dmitrii Ponomarenko is currently third on 15.
The event is based at the Dubai Autodrome and offers 407km of competition in a compact route of around 607km. After a ceremonial start on Thursday evening, crews will tackle selective sections of 201.60km and 204.93km on Friday and Saturday.