Alvarez and Coffaro the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Fernando Alvarez © DR

– Second round of FIA World Cup to feature five gruelling desert sections

South Racing is making the final preparations for the first of two gruelling desert cross-country rallies in the space of four weeks and is counting down to the start of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, round two of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup.


One of the world’s most difficult automotive off-road challenges takes place across the remotest terrain in the Abu Dhabi emirate of the UAE on April 2nd-7th.

The Germany-based team is looking after a pair of Toyota Hiluxes for Spanish driver Fernando Alvarez and his Argentinean navigator Luciano Gennoni and the experienced Venezuelan duo of Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Meneses.

Alvarez and Gennoni have been given the number 227 for their Conarpesa-backed Toyota that finished 14th overall at the opening round of the FIA World Cup in the snowy wastelands of Karelia in Russia in February and also took them to fourth overall in last year’s Desafio Guarani in Paraguay and eighth at the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina.

Coffaro will run the Team Azimut Venezuela Toyota with additional backing from PDVSA, Toyota, Venezuela Tourism and the Ministerio Desportes. Coffaro and Meneses finished ninth overall in Russia and the Venezuelan driver holds 12th in the FIA World Cup standings.

“Straight after the Baja Russia we returned to the workshops in Germany to get the two Toyotas ready for shipment to the Middle East and our first challenge in Abu Dhabi,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham.

“This is one of the most difficult events in the world. The terrain is stunning and a superb chance for our drivers to compete on very difficult sand dunes in extreme temperatures that are as much of a challenge for the drivers and navigators as they are for the cars.

“This event is Abu Dhabi, where it is possible to see temperatures climb into the forties Centigrade, is a far cry from the last rally in Russia, where we had sub-zero temperatures, ice and snow. It just shows the diversity of cross-country rallying and the demands placed on our cars in the FIA World Cup.”

South Racing was founded in 2013. Based near Frankfurt in Germany, the young, customer-driven team also has workshops in Portugal and has extensive experience of the Dakar Rally and rallying in South America.

The competition kicks off with a short super special stage at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina racing circuit on Saturday, April 2nd, but the real meat of the off-road action takes place in Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter over the subsequent five days and five gruelling desert stages – punishing heat, soft sand and tricky navigation adding to the perils for the competitors on stages of 278.04km, 278.90km, 280.06km, 257.87km and 234.01km.

The event finishes at the Yas Marina circuit on Thursday, April 7th.

Neil Perkins,