Offering little in the way of respite, stage three took place over familiar terrain, which ensured another long day of navigating through a sea of rolling sand dunes. With both Andrew and Adrien racing against the clock for more than four hours, it ultimately proved to be a positive day for the riders and their Yamaha WR450F Rally machines with both completing the stage well placed inside the top five.
As the eighth rider to enter stage three, Andrew Short was able to focus on following the lines left in the sand by the riders ahead of him. With his bike running perfectly and with his confidence returning, the 38-year-old is taking all the positives from the serious test that the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is clearly offering. For tomorrow, Andrew will need to rely on his navigational skills as he will open the stage together with the event’s leading competitors.
Adrien Van Beveren was in impeccable form on stage three of the rally. Leading out and demonstrating impressive navigation, the Frenchman was only caught by two of his rivals halfway into the 293-kilometre special. From there, he matched the speed of the duo to complete the stage as the fifth-fastest rider, just under six minutes behind the eventual winner. An excellent result that firmly establishes Adrien as a podium contender with two days of racing to go.
Ross Branch didn’t take to the start of stage three due to damage to his navigational equipment, sustained following his fall during stage two. Unable to fix the all-important navigational tower at the end of stage two – a marathon stage – due to only carrying a limited amount of tools, it frustratingly ruled Ross out of the running. Despite his disappointment, Ross is hopeful of returning to the rally tomorrow, stage four, using the final two days of the rally as further training ahead of the Dakar Rally in January.
Tomorrow’s penultimate stage of the rally takes riders one step closer to the event’s finish line in Al Fathiyeh on Thursday. Scheduled to cover 403.76 kilometres with 251.98 of those raced against the clock, it looks set to be another gruelling test for all riders and their machinery.