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Images from the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Strong start for HRC in Abu Dhabi

Feb 282023

It may only be a little over six weeks since the dust settled on an epic Dakar Rally but the Monster Energy Honda Racing Team are already back in business and delivering some big results.

The team headed back to the Middle East to take on the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the next race in the 2023 Rally Raid World Championship, and it’s been a strong start from all four racers.

The short prologue of just six kilometres was won by Pablo Quintanilla, ahead of Adrien Van Beveren, but Stage One was where the competitors got their first real taste of the challenges that lay ahead of them.

The team are known to be specialists in the desert and they proved it again with an awesome performance in the first stage, with Quintanilla again heading the field with a wheel-perfect performance through the dunes.

The stage saw the guys go from Al Dhannah to Qasr Al Sarab, a trek of over 400km, and Quintanilla took victory ahead of team-mate Van Beveren again with Nacho Cornejo in 4th place in Ricky Brabec close behind in 6th.

The second stage saw the overall lead change hands but it still belongs to the red jersey of HRC, with Van Beveren edging ahead of Quintanilla in P1 with a lead of just 90 seconds.

AVB came home from Stage Two in 6th place and Quintanilla 9th to lead the chasing pack with three full stages still to go.

“Today was a good day overall, really tough. I was able to reach Pablo at around kilometer 57 and then we rode together pushing the best we could going fast and opening the stage. 


“It was a long way with a lot of sand dunes, broken dunes and not always easy to find the way with some surprises on the other side. I did my best and I am happy about that, considering that we were opening the stage. Now I will keep the focus for tomorrow, looking forward to getting back on the sand tracks .”


Team general manager Rui Faria is stoked at the performance of both men and machines so far; “All our riders are doing a great job and the same thing goes to our Honda CRF 450 Rally. It is great to see how all of them are riding safe and fast in this demanding terrain. 


“Now Adrien is the overall leader and Pablo is just around the corner, but we still have a long way to go so we have to keep the focus and keep the same spirit everyday.”


Stay tuned to for more updates as the boys push for the W!