Emirati quad biker, Obaid Al Kitbe rounded off a superb five days by clinching the 2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge quad bike category in emphatic fashion today, his second victory in the Middle East’s number one rally.
While the final day wasn’t all plain sailing, with an overall time of 22h 37m 04s, the Umm Al Quwain resident finished just over two hours ahead of his nearest competitor. Al Kitbe’s achievement included victories in two of the race’s five categories, emphasising the quality of his performance up against many of the world’s leading quad bikers.
“I am so happy to have won in my home country,” said Al Kitbe, after his victory in the world’s ultimate desert rally. “Today was hard. I hit a big rock and suffered a flat tyre just before the first service point. A lot of quads passed me, but I changed it, got going and managed to overtake them again.”
Obaid Al Kitbe at the official finishing ceremony
“This race really is a challenge – a great challenge, especially when you race on your own. Just finishing this alone has made me so happy,” the Team Gecko, Honda TRX 700 rider added.
A careful final leg by Lukas Laskawiec on his Yamaha Raptor 700 sealed second place overall for the Polish rider, while Camelia Liparoti from Italy sealed her second consecutive podium position in the Desert Challenge by finishing third, ahead of another female entrant, Andrea Mayer of Germany.
The nature of Al Kitbe’s stunning victory was the perfect antidote for UAE motorsport fans to last year’s dramatic final day, which saw top Emirati quad bikers and title favourites Mohammed Al Shamsi and Atif Al Zaroni retire with mechanical problems. Both were back in action this year, with Al Zaroni finishing seventh and Al Shamsi ninth overall.
“Obaid Al Kitbe has performed superbly across the five days of this rally,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, founder of the Desert Challenge and president of rally organisers the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE). “22 years ago, this rally was set up by Emiratis, for Emiratis, so it is always a proud moment for us to see a UAE national in top spot on the podium.”
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is held under the under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region. Its high-profile line-up of supporters, includes the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Nissan, ADNOC and Abu Dhabi Aviation.