Motion & Emotion

Nissan Powers Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for 14th Consecutive Year


Nissan Middle East is once again shifting into high gear as  Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, powered by Nissan, fast approaches. This is the 14th consecutive year in which Nissan will be the principal sponsor of this iconic event, formerly known as the UAE Desert Challenge, which this year runs from April 1 to 6 and will form the third round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

Taking place under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dafrah Region, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is also the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes and quads.

“Nissan has become an invaluable partner in our work to promote and develop the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and I’m pleased to extend this relationship so that we can increase the event’s exposure in the future,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, the rally organizers, and President of Emirates Motor Sports Federation.

“Nissan Middle East shares our enthusiasm for the Desert Challenge, as well as our commitment to its long-term success, and I’m confident this partnership will guarantee that the event continues to set the standard in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.”

Nissan’s whole-hearted commitment to motorsport in the region also extends to its backing of individual Middle East-based competitors through factory-level sponsorship. It was this support which helped Qatari driver Adel Abdulla to become the current world champion in the FIA T2 off-road category at the wheel of a Nissan Patrol.   

This year, both Adel and fellow competitor in the T2 category, the UAE-based Lebanese driver Emil Khneisser, are receiving a full support package from Nissan, naturally based around the “hero of all terrains” Nissan Patrol.

While Adel is the current FIA T2 world champion, Emil is the reigning Emirates Desert Championship T2 champion.   

Samir Cherfan said: “Both of these drivers are exceptionally talented but also tenacious and filled with that unshakeable determination to succeed which is a defining characteristic of competitors from our region. We feel that, as well as being able to do justice to the immense off-road capabilities of the Nissan Patrol through their driving skills, they are fitting ambassadors for both Nissan Middle East and the region’s motorsports scene in general. We look forward to their continued success.”

Nissan’s sponsorship of the Desert Challenge means getting involved well before the event itself gets underway. A fleet of Nissan Patrols is supplied to the ATCUAE for officials to map out the course of the special stages in the months leading up to the race. The fleet will also be utilised during the event itself when the Patrols are indispensable for ferrying race officials, marshals, dignitaries and media representatives to control and vantage points on the special stages. 

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Left to right: Samir Cherfan, Nissan Middle East managing director and Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, the rally organisers, and President of Emirates Motor Sports Federation

In addition to providing the fleet of Patrols and naming the event “Powered by Nissan” the carmaker’s sponsorship extends to naming a Special Stage. The most challenging single element of the race will be the Nissan Special Stage 2, taking place on April 3. At 289.39kms it is the longest of the five individual Special Stages and will take place among massive dunes in the beautiful desert of the UAE’s western region of Al Dafrah.

Coming off the back of Nissan’s headline sponsorship of the Dubai International Baja held earlier this month, the carmaker’s support for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge reflects its unwavering commitment to motorsport in the region and one that is unrivalled in the Middle East off-road scene.

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