2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results

Cycle News Staff | April 6, 2017

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results – Great Britain’s Sam Sunderland followed up his Dakar Rally victory earlier this year with another win, this time at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the opening round of the 2017 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results
KTM’s Sam Sunderland dominated in the dunes to take the overall win at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Rally, which wrapped up today. Photography by KTM Images/Marcin Kin

After completing all five stages, the Red Bull KTM Factory Team racer finished the rally with three stage wins and an overall time of 18:14.32.5, which was a little over six minutes ahead of the next-best rider, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla of Chile. Sunderland’s teammate Matthias Walkner of Australia was third overall.

“I had been waiting for this win for a very long time and it’s an amazing feeling to win on home ground, as I live in Dubai,” Sunderland said. “I had a good start to the race, winning the prologue, which was important, but this morning I knew I would have to attack hard in the first part of the course.

“I’m happy to take the win, of course,” Sunderland said. “It’s always good, and that’s the objective. The team was good all week, and I’m pleased to get the job done. It’s almost like a home race for me. I’ve been close to winning it many times before but to get it done this year feels very cool.”

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results
Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla was runner-up. Photography by Husqvarna Images/Marcin Kin

“I’m very happy with this result, and about the race and my feeling with the bike,” the runner-up, Quintanilla said. “It was very good for my confidence to feel strong again, and that’s important. It’s also important to start the world championship in a positive way, and I think we did this. I feel a lot of support from everybody, and the atmosphere in the team was very good. Now I feel strong, and I can fight for the wins again. I think it’s important to take a rest and to think about what we did and how we can improve in the future.”

Honda’s Paulo Goncalves said of his fourth place finish: “So here I am in fourth place at the end of the first round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship. With my place in the prologue [seventh], it was really tough to try to win the race, unless it had been just four days, as I was in the lead yesterday! But the main thing is that I kept up a good pace all along and that my Honda ran beautifully. In less than two weeks, we shall be gathering in Qatar and I shall try to do better in the prologue.”

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results


Stage 5 – Abu Dhabi Aviation Special: 234.01 km

  1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 2:40.20.0 h
  2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna + 5.59.0 min
  3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, + 8.58.0
  4. Paolo Gonçalves (POR), Honda + 12.26.0
  5. Pela Renet (FRA), Husqvarna + 14.56.0


Overall (after five stages)

  1. Sam Sunderland 18:14.32.5 h
  2. Pablo Quintanilla +6.13.7 min
  3. Matthias Walkner + 8.16.1
  4. Paolo Gonçalves +11.10.8
  5. Pela Renet + 14.50.8