40 riders competed in 2 race categories with Joey Savatgy taking the victory in the WSX (450cc) category and Max Anstie placing first on the podium for the SX2 (250cc) class.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The highly anticipated FIM World Supercross Championship Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the penultimate race in the Championship, concluded its Middle East debut at Etihad Arena, which was transformed into a sandy dirt track battlefield for the occasion.
Fans packed into the arena in the UAE’s capital to enjoy a full day of world-class racing, freestyle motocross shows, live music, and a show stopping pyrotechnics display.
The event is the first ever supercross championship to take place in the region and is the first time an event at Etihad Arena and a supercross track have both run indoors and outdoors. 40 of the world’s best riders battled it out for the prestigious podium spots, with Joey Savatgy emerging as champion in the WSX (450cc) division, and Max Anstie placing first in the SX2 (250cc) race.
Savatgy, winner of the 450cc WSX category and the current Championship leader, said “It’s always really exciting to ride a new track, and today surpassed our expectations. The team in Abu Dhabi has done an amazing job transforming this indoor arena into a suitable dirt track for us. Having a two row start gate is a really unique concept and I luckily got out of the gate pretty well in the first two races, which put me in a good spot going into the third. The competition was really tough this weekend, and I’m glad to have come away with the overall win.”
Anstie, the winner of the SX2 250cc class, said “We have had a great day in Abu Dhabi, and I’m really happy to have come out with a win, especially for the first ever World Supercross Championship event in Abu Dhabi. The atmosphere was electric today in Etihad Arena, thanks to all the fans. We have been blown away by the size of the fan base that our sport already has here, and are excited to see it grow even more.”
Closely following in the footsteps of their senior counterparts, the junior category unveiled a new generation of emerging stars from the UAE. 20 young riders, all aged between 7 and 13, showcased remarkable skill and technique in their own race categories, inspiring the next generation of talent in the region at a grassroots level.
Saif Rashid Al Noaimi, CEO of Ethara, remarked on the success of the inaugural event, commenting: “We aimed to bring the world's most thrilling supercross action to the heart of Abu Dhabi, and the overwhelming response from fans and the exceptional performances we witnessed have exceeded our expectations. We are also happy to have provided young talent from the UAE a platform to showcase their skills to an international audience.
“At Ethara, we are committed to continually adding more variety and diversity for the Abu Dhabi entertainment and sporting calendar, and the addition of the FIM World Supercross Championship to our portfolio is testament to our dedication to setting new standards of excellence for events.”
The entire transformation process of Etihad Arena from a clean venue into a finished racing track, took approximately four days, involving 16 different forms of earth moving machinery such as excavators, dozers, and street sweepers. 7,000 tonnes of locally sourced clay-based dirt were brought in to the venue, after being carefully selected to adhere to safety regulation.
The track boasted multiple jumps, including the “Triple” - the most significant and challenging jump. The Triple comprised three jumps that riders had to clear in a single leap, covering a distance of around 70 feet. Looping outside of the Etihad Arena, the outside section saw riders take on two tight rhythm sections with corners that posed high risk for errors, and high entertainment for the audience.
SX Global CEO, Adam Bailey, said: “The success of the first ever World Supercross event in Abu Dhabi marks a significant milestone in the Championship's history and demonstrates our commitment at SX Global to delivering top-tier sporting entertainment for our fans. We’ve been blown away by the positive response we’ve received from Abu Dhabi and the crowd tonight was sensational - so much energy and enthusiasm.”
At the end of the month, the riders will head to the home of WSX, Australia, for the Melbourne Grand Prix — the final event of the championship.
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