Not a bad start for Daniel Sanders as the GASGAS RC 450F rider claims fourth place on the opening stage of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, just five seconds off the top three! Racing in the country for the first time, Sanders was keen to impress on the mostly sandy stage, with the rally terrain falling well within his comfort zone.
Daniel Sanders: “Not a bad day for me, but not the best. As this is my first time in Abu Dhabi, I didn’t really know how the desert was and had a couple of scares early on with some big drops. I eased back a little and tried to stick to a good, solid pace, and other than a couple of navigation mistakes it all went well. I think towards the end I was riding a little bit too cautious, but it was a good day to get my eye in. I start fourth tomorrow so hopefully I can chase down the guys in front.”
The 2021 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge started well for Daniel Sanders as he posted the second-fastest time on the prologue. Measuring just two kilometers however, times were tight on the twisty course with just seconds between riders, but Daniel’s result gave him an excellent start position for stage one.
As an ultra-successful sand racer, Daniel was looking forward to the racing through the dunes of Abu Dhabi, but with the desert terrain being different to anything he had faced before, the Aussie chose to curb his pace slightly to minimize the chance of making any huge mistakes.
Despite his cautious approach, Sanders still put in an impressive ride to complete the 262km timed special as fourth quickest – not bad considering he even made a few errors with his navigation! Combined with his prologue result, Daniel lies third overall going into day two, three minutes down on the provisional rally leader. And with two of his main opponents starting ahead of him tomorrow, Chucky will be fired up to chase down the riders in front and reduce the gap in the overall standings.
Back out into the desert tomorrow for Monday’s stage two – the longest of the race, Daniel is set to cover a total of 470km, of which 333km will be the timed special raced against the clock.
Results (provisional): Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2021, stage 1
1. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:20:19
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:20:25
3. Franco Caimi (Hero) 3:23:21
4. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 3:23:26
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 1)
1. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:25:31
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:25:35
3. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 3:28:38