Muscat – Young Omani driver Abdullah al Rawahi and his Qatari co-driver Nasser al Kawari in their Cam Am T4 finished fourth in T4 group of the gruelling Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Nizar Al Shanfari the most experienced of the Omani drivers and his co-driver Ali Merza from UAE, suffered an accident while Abdullah Al Zubair and co-driver Faisal AlRaisi on Jeep Wrangler also faced a lot of technical issues with his car.
Al Rawahi said: “Glad to finish this long challenge and happy also that I have got the honour of the fourth place finish in T4 group in this very challenging race. This is my first time on Cam Am in desert races, it was a new experience for me and hope that I can do more of these kinds of races in the future.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed al Rajhi rekindled his partnership with German co-driver Timo Gottschalk and the pair were rewarded with a first-ever victory.
Al Rajhi inherited the lead before the start of the penultimate stage through the remote deserts and towering sand dunes of the UAE’s Empty Quarter and the Toyota Hilux driver held his nerve to seal victory by the margin of 12min 31sec from the experienced Czech driver Martin Prokop.
The win catapulted the Saudi into contention for the Drivers’ Championship in the 2023 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).
Al Rajhi said: “We did it well. We stayed clever. This race was not easy. A lot of good drivers have a crash. It has been difficult for me here before and I knew I had to be clever. Timo, myself and the team had a great plan and we won the race. That was the most important. The first time I win here in the Empty Quarter, dunes and dunes and more dunes. We are very happy.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Saleh al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel dominated the event for four days, winning the Prologue and the opening three selective sections comfortably to carve out a lead of 27min 03sec, but the Qatari had crashed heavily in the dunes near the end of the third stage and badly damaged his Toyota. Not only were panels damaged and the windscreen missing, but the car had also sustained roll cage damage to the extent that it was not possible for the five-time Dakar winner to continue on safety grounds.