Abdullah makes to podium in Abu Dhabi desert challenge

ABU DHABI: Young Omani driver Abdullah al Zubair ended the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2018 in third place in GCC team drivers category. The Challenge comprised 40 teams from different countries around the world led by some famous names in the desert rally world.
The race was part of the world cross-country championship, where Abdullah al Zubair and his co-driver Faisal al Raisi were on board Toyota Hilux T1 category. They did a good race despite facing several technical problems with the car during the race that was extended to five consecutive days without break. The race has started in front of the Yas Marina circuit in the capital Abu Dhabi through the super stage, which was organised specifically for the audience.
With the end of the desert challenge, Abdullah al Zubair gained vast experience in his career by achieving third place in the GCC category and 22nd place in the overall ranking of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge aiming in future to improve his skills and ranking.
Abdullah al Zubair said: “I am very happy with the result obtained despite of all the problems encountered in the challenge. To be frank it was not that simple and easy to take the third place prize at the level of GCC drivers.”
“Thanks goes to all supporters, mechanics and Oman fans for their support. I will try my best for more focused campaign in future challenges and races,” he added.
Abdullah had competed the same race last year but was unable to complete the race after facing an accident in the early stages.
The crash forced him to leave the championship early although he aspired to be among the top 20 drivers.
This year, young Abdullah al Zubair showed a different performance than the one last year despite some technical problems during the race and different stages. He withdrew from the race in two stages of the total five stages.
Al Zubair Mohammed, father of Abdullah al Zubair, and his co-driver Mohammed Issa al Zadjali also participated in the challenge on Jeep Wrangler as the second Omani team in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. But Al Zubair’s using a standard Jeep and the vehicle specifications did not give him the opportunity to compete with the highly experienced drivers. Though, he was able to finish the race in fourth place in GCC teams category and ended up 28th among the 40 competitors.
The first stage of the race was launched from Yas Arena, where the participating race vehicles were lined up for the start of the race, and Abdullah al Zubair started the race from the 17th place in the ranking queue. Due to the lack of familiarity with the new car Toyota Hilux T1, which arrived late from Europe, and in addition to the lack of experience of the co-driver Faisal al Raisi in using navigation systems in the desert, loss of the right track during the race, were the factors contributed to the delay of Abdullah al Zubair’s finishing the race in 24th spot.
Challenging stages
As the competition intensified under the hot desert weather, the second stage, named Nissan, was more severe and saw fierce competition between the racers, especially the experienced ones. Abdullah al Zubair drove his car steadily towards the end of the stage and in the fastest period Zubair’s advance stopped suddenly after the mid-point with a technical issue. The Omani driver returned to the start point preferring to withdraw at this stage, and returned to the next stage the next day, which enabled him to finish the third stage in 18 after starting from the position of 33.
However, the withdrawals took place and there was a break in the axle of Abdullah al Zubair vehicle in the fourth stage, making it impossible to complete the rally to be the second withdrawal of the Omani driver in the desert challenge.
The Omani returned to the race with better morale and pace to complete the rally in the fifth and final stage, after the mechanical problem was fixed, and stared the last stage from the position 32 among the competitors.
The speed with which he drove the vehicle and the experience he gained during the past four days, made him finish the race on his last day with a nice 15th in the overall standing. This represents a personal achievement for him despite his withdrawal in two of the five stages and he could have a better position than this if he completed all stages of the desert challenge.