Jean-Louis Schlesser aims to build on his record six victories in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge when the 23rd staging of the event takes place in April.
Schlesser will again be partnered by his Russian co-driver Konstantin Zhilstov in his familiar Sonangol Buggy as he looks to defend the title he won after a battle with the UAE's Khalifa Al Mutaiwei last year.
While the Frenchman finished with a winning margin of one hour, 37 minutes, 19 seconds, he was able to relax only on the final day when Al Mutaiwei suffered mechanical problems. He expects another stern test this year.
"I love the Desert Challenge for many reasons, and have made a lot of friends in the UAE," said Schlesser, who scored the first of his Desert Challenge victories back in 1994, a year after the event first became part of the FIA World Cup series. "It's a very tough event, and you have to learn to negotiate with the desert to get through.
"You are bound to make mistakes in an event as difficult as this, but the secret is to make as few mistakes as possible, and not to break the car."
Taking place from April 4 to 11, the 2013 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is the second of eight rounds in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and trucks, and the first of six rounds in the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes.
Starting and finishing at Yas Marina Circuit and taking place entirely within the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Desert Challenge once again takes competitors on a testing journey through the spectacular desert terrain of the Western Region of Al Garbia, reaching deep into the Liwa desert.
NGK Racing and Sportbikes series return to Dubai Autodrome
The NGK Racing Series returns this weekend at Dubai Autodrome with Round 9 and Round 10 of the 16-race championship.
The Class 1 pace setter Costas Papantonis is expected to be back in action at the wheel of his Gulf Petrochem SEAT after missing the previous round of the series at Yas Marina, and the Fujairah-based multiple UAE champion will be the man to beat.
The fight for the Clio Cup and the Class 2 titles is also hotting up. Ramzi Moutran in the Duel Racing Renault Clio tops both the Class 2 and Clio Cup championship tables, but his points lead in both is a mere four points.
Qualifying for the NGK Racing Series starts at 9am, Friday with Race 1 at 11.05am and Race 2 at 2.30pm.
Also on the bill are two rounds of the Motorcity UAE Sportbikes – with the 600 Class, 1,000 Class and the Rookie Cup – and two rounds of the Radical Winter Cup.
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