ABU DHABI: Spain’s Nani Roma took a major step towards a first victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Tuesday while Dubai-based British rider Sam Sunderland came under pressure but retained his lead in the bikes class on another day of cross country rallying at its best in the Rub Al Khali.
While defending champion Jean-Louis Schlesser won the spectacular 284-km Qasr Al Sarab Stage 3 to take his buggy into third place overall in the cars category, the third fastest time on the day was enough to allow Roma and French co-driver Michel Perin more than double their overnight lead to 40 mins 39 secs in a Mini.
Fourth quickest on stage, Brazillian Guilherme Spinelli partnered by Youssef Haddad in a Mitsubishi ASX, held third place at the end of another demanding passage through the towering dunes of the UAE’s Western Region of Al Garbia.
Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and fellow-countryman Erik Van Loon, both driving an HRX Ford X, and Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal in a Hummer H3, completed the top six.
Despite his commanding lead, Roma, knows he cannot afford to relax over the final two legs.
“It was another difficult stage and the sand was very soft. It’s always harder to open a stage and make the tracks,”