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The desert is shaking! Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk win the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

3. March 2023

Further contributions

  • Saudi Arabian-Brandenburg duo promptly victorious in their reunion
  • Consistency makes the Kings: Well-dosed risk pays off in difficult desert rally
  • 2014-2019 & 2023: 14 podium results for Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk

Abu Dhabi (March 03, 2023) – With driving nous and a foot to the floor: Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk have won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The Saudi Arabian-Brandenburg duo celebrated their 14th joint podium result promptly after reuniting for this second round of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC). Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk already contested 31 cross-country rallies together between 2014 and 2019. For Timo Gottschalk, it was the second major success in the still young motorsport year 2023. In January, he celebrated a surprising and sensational third place in the Dakar Rally together with Lucas Moraes (BRA). Gottschalk had stepped in for Yazeed Al-Rajhi’s regular co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz in Abu Dhabi, who had to take a break due to injury.

In 2023, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge once again offered everything for which it is known and sometimes feared: dunes, dunes, dunes, plus sand in all colors, shapes and flavors. Many broken dunes made the second W2RC run a tricky affair. One of the challenges was to dose the risk carefully. On the penultimate of the five rally days, Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk took over the lead from the big favorites Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA, Toyota), who had to retire after a quadruple rollover and a Toyota Hilux that was too badly damaged as a result. Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk, on the other hand, brought their Hilux car back to Abu Dhabi safe and sound, having previously kept other co-favorites, including Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin (FRA/BEL, Prodrive), at bay.


“We are extremely proud to have won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, a desert classic so close to my home in Saudi Arabia. That means a lot to me. The collaboration with Timo worked perfectly from the very first minute. The rally was also worthwhile for me in terms of W2RC points and the championship has become a bit more open as a result.”


“A victory is always something special, a great feeling. I have taken part in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge several times and know how difficult this rally is. We are proud and happy to have won here. It’s a really difficult rally with lots of sand and dunes and lots of tricky hazards. It’s extremely challenging to judge the right pace. I think we drove a clever rally.”


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