- Al Ain Water the lifeblood of World Cup rally as temperatures soar to 60C in the cockpit
Competitors battle conditions as much as each other in World Cup cross country rallying, and efforts to combat the threat of dehydration will be high priority in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan which starts on Saturday.
Drivers and co-drivers will have to contend with temperatures soaring to 60C in the cockpit as the cars and buggies negotiate a route sweeping across the deserts of the Al Dafrah Region.
For bike and quad riders, the test is just as demanding, and many competitors will inevitably face the exhausting task of digging themselves free from the soft sand traps along the route.
But thanks to research carried out by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and the rally organisers’ partnership with Al Ain Water, the risks of dehydration will be significantly reduced.
“Our own research has shown that competitors and volunteers working in high temperatures can face a very serious threat of dehydration,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsport Federation, and FIA Vice President for Sport.
“Dehydration affects physical and mental performance, and even at low levels can have severe physiological effects. Side effects include poor concentration, co-ordination and reaction time and that can lead to accidents. So keeping competitors and volunteers hydrated is a major priority.”
The ATCUAE works closely with Al Ain Water each year to make sure ample water supplies are readily available to competitors, officials, and the volunteer marshals working out in the desert for hours on end.
Eng. Tariq Ahmed Al Wahedi, CEO, Agthia Group PJSC, said: “We are very proud that Al Ain Water has been the Official Water Supplier for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for the past 13 years. Our water ensures participants are optimally hydrated in the harsh weather and conditions of the five-day desert challenge, due to its well-balanced mineral composition”.
Desert Challenge water stations will be set up across the five demanding competitive sections running through the Al Dafrah Region from Sunday following Saturday afternoon’s opening super special spectator stage at Yas Marina Circuit.
On Sunday morning the rally begins in earnest when 112 competitors from 28 countries tackle the 276km Yas Marina Circuit stage, the first of five competitive sections of the rally.
The UAE’s Khalid Al Qassimi is among fellow competitors and Desert Challenge winners Jean-Louis Schlesser, Bruno Saby, Ari Vatanen and Stephane Peterhansel.
Dubai-based defending bikes champion Sam Sunderland will also take part alongside six-time rally winner Marc Coma and Dhakar Rally winner Toby Price.
Taking place under patronage of of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dafrah Region, the Desert Challenge is the third round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies and the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes and quads.
The rally is supported by Al Dafrah Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality, the UAE Army, Abu Dhabi Police, Nissan Middle East, ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al-Ain Water, National Ambulance Service, Tadweer, Yas Marina Circuit and the Qasr Al-Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. The Nissan Patrol is the official car for the event.