Driver Stéphane Peterhansel and navigator wife Andrea combined for an historic car victory at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as Sam Sunderland and Fahad Al Musallam also won.
Here is all you need to know:
– Frenchman Peterhansel recruited his German wife Andrea to help give his MINI John Cooper Works Rally car the edge after driving SxS races together.
– It paid off handsomely as they led through the 500km mark in the car category over the dunes, then held off the Peugeot of UAE’s Khalid Al Qassimi in the second half of the rally to win by just under nine minutes.
– They became the first married couple team to take an overall win at the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies with Pole Aron Domzala finishing third as Cyril Despres (FRA) and Kuba Przygonski (POL) struggled.
– Thirteen-time Dakar Rally champion Stéphane explained: “When we took the lead, we thought that we should try and keep it. We never got stuck in the dunes and we had no technical problems. It’s a great feeling because this is the first time we won in a real racing car together.”
– Andrea, 51, added: “I was unwell before the race so the idea was to just see how we go. As each day passed I was able to get more and more confident. It was a tough race – we had sandstorms that affected visibility. I always knew Stéphane was a great driver, but to be in the car and see how he reacts to different situations was really something. We’re so happy to share this victory.”
– In the bike category, 2017 Dakar Rally winner Sunderland led from start to finish to win impressively from fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Luciano Benavides (ARG).
– Briton Sunderland, 29, said: “I’m really happy with the job that was done by the team and my own performance. It’s a great start to the World Championship.”
– Benavides, 23, revealed: “It’s been an incredible day for me. I knew I had to push a lot to make the second place. The bike was feeling good so I went on the attack. The team got a one-two finish so this is really good.”
– Mohammed Jaffar (KUW) and Mohammed Balooshi (UAE) both finished top 10, while Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS) was the highest placed female biker in 14th.
– Two stage wins out of five helped Fahad Al Musallam (KUW) to victory in the quad contest as he dug deep to hold off former Dakar champion Rafal Sonik (POL).
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge selected final standings:
1. S. Peterhansel (FRA)/A. Peterhansel MINI Rally 18h03m45s
2. K. Al Qassimi (UAE)/ X. Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR +08m48s
3. A. Domzala (POL)/M. Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux +46m16s
8. C. Despres (FRA)/ D. Oliveras (ESP) MINI Buggy +04h08m34s
1. S. Sunderland (GBR) KTM 17h46m42s
2. L. Benavides (ARG) KTM +08m20
3. J. Cornejo (CHI) Honda +09m59s
7. M. Mesari Jaffar (KUW) KTM +01h37m06s
9. M. Al Balooshi (UAE) KTM +01h45m54s
14. A. Nifontova (RUS) Husqvarna +08h19m11s
1. F. Al Musallam (KUW) Yamaha 21h51m28s
2. R. Sonik (POL) Yamaha +01m13s
3. A. Maksimov (RUS) Yamaha +05m52s