Husband and wife team Stephane and Andrea Peterhansel victorious at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
The Peterhansels win cars category as Sam Sunderland wins bikes competition for second time
It was a family affair at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge cars category on Thursday as husband and wife team Stephane and Andrea Peterhansel triumphed.
Stephane had already won the event five times in the past, as well as once on a motorbike in 1996, but this was the first time he had been victorious with Andrea as his co-driver and navigator.
He prevailed by 9 minutes, 48 seconds in his Mini John Cooper Works Rally vehicle from Emirati driver Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi to stand on the top step of the podium at Yas Marina Circuit with his wife in the event that is also part of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
The Frenchman said his mind was now already on trying to repeat the feat of success at the 2020 Dakar Rally.
"This is an incredible moment,” he said at the finish. “This win is unbelievably special to me and I'm overjoyed to share it with my wife. It was a very physical challenge inside the car, but we made it through and now my mind is on Dakar for us."
Andrea said she had enjoyed the task of training to be able to alongside her husband, and she said she now had fresh insight into what had made the 53 year old such a successful driver in the field of rally driving.
"It has been a pleasure to navigate for Stephane," she said. "I knew he was a talented driver, but now I know for certain.
"Months of training have led up this, one of the hardest rallies for both bikes and cars. For sure it was demanding. But, if it worked here, it can work anywhere for us.”
Meanwhile in the motorbikes category, Sam Sunderland completed his second triumph in three years as he came out on his KTM bike.
Starting the day with a small lead the Briton took control of the final stage with a fast start.
He took the title with a margin of 8 mins, 20 seconds over Argentine Luciano Benavides.
As well as the win it also boosted his championship prospects in the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
He said: “I’m super happy with today and thankful for the team who have done a great job on the bike all week.
"It's great to start the world championship with this rally. Despite not having some of my teammates here, there is always someone fighting you for that top spot.
“It's a strategic race so you have to push when it counts and know when to take care on the sections where there is nothing to gain. On paper it can look easy but it doesn't always turn out that way.
"This year has been tricky with the wind on the earlier legs creating tough conditions and there were some difficult parts to navigate. It really made the rally the challenge it is supposed to be."
Updated: April 4, 2019 07:26 PM