Saturday 11 March
Second stage: Al Qudra Desert
Link section: 32.56 km - Special: 174.20 km – Link section: 31.63 km - Total: 238.39 km
This morning, the wind was whistling across the crests of the dunes in the Al Qudra desert but the sun was shining as the participants set off for this second day of the Dubai International Baja. A notable absentee this morning under the arch was Sam Sunderland, who chose to withdraw rather than leave the door open to the other competitors.
Mark Ackerman (Husqvarna) seized his chance, going all out and taking the third Special. “Today”, he explained, “the Special was really technical, especially with the gusts of wind that caught us off balance, but I managed to catch Benjamin Melot. He was riding fast and I just had to hang on to his coat tails to win the special. I am really happy with my performance!”
This feat enabled the rider from Germany to take first place on the leader board and win the Dubai International Baja with a lead of 29 seconds over Benjamin Melot (KTM 500EXC). “It was more or less the same itinerary as yesterday, but more difficult because of the weather”, observed the Frenchman. “It was great for me to win yesterday’s stage but today I came second, unfortunately. That’s racing, and I really had a great time!”
Just 7’29 adrift of the winner, Al Balooshi (KTM) took third place. “I was a bit tired after yesterday and I didn’t feel comfortable on the bike”, he admits, “but that’s no excuse. The guys in front attacked hard and, with the lack of visibility, I didn’t want to take any more risks. Now I shall be focusing on the next Rally, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.”
So the first win in the first event of the FIM Bajas World Cup goes to Marck Ackerman ahead of Mohammed Al Balooshi and Alessandro Ruoso (KTM).
In fourth position, Mohammed Jaffar (KTM) is followed by David McBride (KTM), Tim Trenker (Husqvarna) and Shannon O’Connor (KTM).
PROVISIONAL FIM 450CC OVERALL STANDINGS
1. 5 ACKERMAN M. 4:15:50.0
2. 3 AL BALOOSHI M. 4:23:19.0
3. 7 RUOSO A. 4:31:03.0
4. 8 JAFFAR M. 4:35:52.0
5. 2 MCBRIDE D. 4:36:59.0
6. 11 TRENKER T. 4:46:36.0
7. 6 O'CONNOR S. 4:49:48.0
8. 21 KHAMIS OZAIR K. 4:52:56.0
9. 10 LUCCHESE M. 5:00:29.0
10. 22 DUNN C. 5:09:09.0