Search and rescue operation makes event the safest in world of cross country rallying

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 26 March, 2019:  Mohammed Ben Sulayem today paid tribute to the ‘unsung heroes’ who make the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan the safest event in the world of international cross country rallying.

Negotiating some of the most forbidding desert terrain on earth in the Al Dafrah Region, with timed stages stretching on for more than 250km across mighty dunes and salt flats, the world’s top drivers and riders face a major examination.

Taking place under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dafrah Region, the Desert Challenge is also supported Abu Dhabi Aviation, Abu Dhabi Police, ADNOC, Al Dhafra Region Ruler’s Representative Court, National Ambulance, Nissan, United Arab Emirates Armed Forces and Yas Marina Circuit. The Nissan Patrol is the official car for the event.

With the threat of accidents, fatigue and dehydration ever present, ten per cent of competitors starting the event each year need some form of medical assistance, and help is never more than 12 minutes away.

“It takes a meticulously planned logistical operation to respond so quickly whenever someone finds trouble,” said Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, organisers of the rally which has its ceremonial start at Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday.

“The people working behind the scenes to guarantee this level of safety are the unsung heroes of the rally. No other event in the FIA World Cup or FIM World Championship can match our average response time of 10-12 minutes.”

The Search and Rescue operation for the Desert Challenge depends on the combined efforts of Abu Dhabi Aviation, National Ambulance and a highly skilled medical team, all co-ordinated by the ATCUAE’s experienced Rally Control unit.

Abu Dhabi Aviation helicopters and rally medical crews are on permanent standby to be dispatched to any incident, as are a fleet of National Ambulance vehicles and staff which operate close to the route in the event of any emergency.

Working under the direction of Clerk of the Course Pierre Arries and Chief Medical Officer Dr Sean Petherbridge, the teams are able to deliver initial paramedic treatment before transferring rally crews to the event’s bivouac medical centre or hospital.

“The safety and wellbeing of competitors and all those attending the Desert Challenge is always our top priority. We are proud of the role we play each year in such an international event, providing the highest standards required of a modern ambulance service,” said Ahmed Al Hajeri, CEO, National Ambulance.

When the second round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies heads away from Abu Dhabi into the deserts of the Al Dafrah Region on Sunday morning, no driver will be better prepared for the test ahead than the UAE’s Yahya Al Helei.

Partnered by Emirati co-driver Khalid Al Kendi, Al Helei will be maintaining his incredible 100 percent appearance record in the event at the wheel of the Nissan Pick up which has seen him out pace and outmanoeuvre some of the world’s top drivers and rally machinery in recent years.

After engine failure prevented him from starting the recent Dubai International Baja, the UAE’s reigning world champion Mohammed Al Balooshi returns to action in the event which launches this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship for bikes and quads