The second edition of the electrifying Sharjah Sports Desert Festival (SSDF) has announced a line-up of some of the world’s best desert bikers and dune riders who will be competing in the spectacular thrills and spills event on Friday, January 12, at Al Badayer Desert in Sharjah. Themed ‘Become a Desert Hero’, the emirate’s most popular off-road racing competition is organised by Sharjah Sports TV, a subsidiary of Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC).
The off-roaders will compete in the preliminary endurance races, with 15 participants qualifying for the white-knuckle ‘Time Challenge’ races in each category, including Motor Cross 1 (MX1), Motor Cross 2 (MX2), Desert All-terrain Vehicles (ATV) and Utility Task Vehicles (UTV), also known as Side by Side (SxS).
Among the big names participating in the emirate’s most-highly anticipated desert sporting event will be South African champion Michael Docherty, also known as Iron Mike, champion of DMX 2017, who will race in the MX1 class. British motocross rider Ryan Blair, champion of DMX 2017 will compete in the Motor Cross 2 (MX2), along with compatriot Daniel Hutchinson, one of the great masters in KTM racing and member of the Al Balooshi racing team.
Other off-road stars include Emirati motocross rider Sultan Al Balooshi, one of the greatest motorsport riders in the UAE, having twice been the Tunisia Arab Champion (MX), who will be competing alongside compatriot Khalifa Al Rassi, an equally prestigious participant in desert motorsports and designer of the racetrack for SSDF 2018.
Kuwaiti champion Mohammed Jaffar, a Red Bull athlete who secured the first place in the fourth round of the UAE Motocross 2016 is another massive name to watch, having started his career in motorsports in 2007 and won the first championship in the UAE in 2011.
Fellow Kuwaiti Abdullah Al Shatti, a regular face at many of the most impressive international and regional races will also be looking for a title at SSDF 2018 having recently taken second place in the fifth round of the Grand UAE MX2 Championship in Abu Dhabi.
Indian motocross rider Jinan adds to the line-up of the best known competitors. Jinan has participated in 50 races across the world and has the distinction of being the Indian national champion from 2002 to 2005.
Rashid Al Obad, Director of Sharjah Sports TV, said: “The resounding success of the inaugural Sharjah Sports Desert Festival drew massive attention to the world class quality of the competitors and the expertise and professionalism of the event’s organisation. It is a testament to that success that we have such a wonderful international line-up of some of the best names in this spectacular sport.”
He added: “SSDF 2018 will continue that legacy and establish itself as a truly global event for the most talented desert riders and off-road drivers from across the world, which will not only provide greater participation, but also add to the enormous excitement for the spectators.”
The Organising Committee of SSDF 2018 has allocated cash prizes for the first three places, where the winner will receive AED 10,000 while second and third placers will receive AED5,000 and AED3,000 respectively.
Sharjah Sports TV was launched in 2007 under the auspices of Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC) as a specialised and independent sports satellite television station and a platform to provide media and field coverage of an array of local, regional and international sporting events, tournaments and championships. The channel has specialised studios at sports events venues to provide in-depth sports analysis and coverage.
Al Badayer is considered one of the most important desert areas in the UAE and is well known for its stunning sand dunes which attract a large number of the UAE's residents and tourists. Al Badayer is a favourite spot for fans of camping and Safari trips for off road driving. Strategically located adjacent to the Dubai-Hatta Road, the Al Badayer area is also equipped with all necessary security measures to ensure visitors’ safety.