Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge X-Raid : Fifth place in the Ultimate class for Pau Navarro

– Successful dune training for the young Spaniard
– Sixth place in the Challenger class for Annett Quandt

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2024, the second round of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship, was one of the most difficult in its history. The retirement rate was high and hardly any crew got through the rally without problems. This was not the case for Pau Navarro and Andreas Schulz in the MINI JCW Rally Plus. The pair did not take any great risks and secured fifth place in the Ultimate classification with a consistent driving style. The women’s duo Annett Quandt and Annie Seel finished sixth in the Challaneger category in the X-raid 1000R Turbo. Their team-mates Pál Lónyai and Dmytro Tsyro had to abandon the race prematurely on the fourth day. Lónyai complained of pain in his arm and neck after hitting a dune crossing. Although he received a heavy time penalty, he was still classified in ninth place.

This 33rd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge had it all. The entire five stages traditionally consisted almost entirely of sand and dunes. But this year, the dunes in particular pushed the participants to their limits and sometimes beyond. Many vehicles retired after accidents – even among the top crews.

Navarro, who was racing so long in the dunes in a T1+ vehicle for the first time, kept a low profile and thus stayed out of trouble. For the young Spaniard, the focus was on gaining experience and learning with the help of dune specialist Andreas Schulz. The two of them always finished the stage in the top 10 without pushing too hard. Their consistency was ultimately rewarded with fifth place. A great comeback after his early retirement from the Dakar Rally in January due to injury.

Quandt and Seel also impressed with their consistent driving style. They completed almost all the stages without any major problems. They started the final day in fifth place in the Challenger classification. However, a technical problem on the last few kilometres of the stage set them back. Nevertheless, they still achieved a good sixth place.

The X-raid team now has almost a month off before the third round of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship is scheduled for the beginning of April. The Ultimate Rally Raid Transiberico (02 – 07 April 2024) is part of the World Championship for the first time.

Quotes of the drivers
Pau Navarro (MINI JCW Rally Plus): « That was a good rally for us. I learnt a lot and was able to improve every day. Our aim was to finish the rally and not take any risks. Fifth place is a very good result, considering that I haven’t done that many kilometres in the MINI yet. I was worried about my hand beforehand. It hurt today, but it was still okay. Many thanks to the doctors and physios who helped me after the operation. I wouldn’t have completed a single kilometre without them. »

Annett Quandt (X-raid 1000R Turbo): « The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was much harder than in previous years. The first few days went pretty well and we were able to work our way up to fifth place. Many cars had problems – either due to accidents or technical problems. Unfortunately, we were also affected today. A screw in the gearbox had come loose and we lost all the oil. We were able to repair it and then drove on carefully. We barely made it in the maximum time specified. We’re pleased that we made it to the finish and, as always, didn’t give up. Sixth place is good, we have nothing to hide. »

Overall standings Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Ultimate class
1. N. Al-Attyiah / E. Boulanger – Prodrive – 16h 20m 09s
2. S. Quintero / D. Zenz – Toyota – 16h 32m 55s
3. Y. Al-Rajhi / T. Gottschalk – Toyota – 16h 36m 34s
4. M. Baumgart / K. Cinea – Prodrive – 17h 32m 39s
5. P. Navarro / A. Schulz – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 17h 47m 11s…

Challenger class
1. A. Jones / O. Mena – Can-Am – 17h 10m 50s
2. R. Baciuska / O. Vidal – Can-Am – 17h 15m 28s
3. H. Garces / J. Latrach – Can-Am – 17h 57m 02s
4. D. Akeel / S. Duple – Taurus – 18h 58m 43s
5. M. Tiglia / C. Sachs – Taurus – 20h 18m 15s
6. A. Quandt / A. Seel – X-raid 1000R Turbo – 21h 38m 16s…
9. P. Lónyai / D. Tsyro – X-raid 1000r Turbo – 54h 44m 29s