You don't have to be unhinged to do this...

Racing across deserts on bikes with only GPS for company. Mental...

You don't have to be unhinged to do this...

In 1976, Thierry Sabine got lost in the Tenere desert. While in the middle seeing a mirage that involved water and Ursula Andress*, he thought massive test of man and machine would a be good idea and the Paris-Dakar Rally was born a year later.

Now, long-distance rally-raids are commonplace and there is a world championship but still, riding thousands of kilometres in baking temperatures with just GPS for company is the proviso of lunatics like Britain's Sam Sunderland only.

Sunderland is currently in a fight with rivals Mattias Walkner and Australian Toby Price on the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Things you need to know:

Abu Dhabi marks the start of the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship with six intense days across the Liwa Desert sand dunes.

  • It is the 28th anniversary of the race. 
  • The race starts with 112 drivers and riders from 28 countries.
  • Walkner, 31, revealed: “I have had so many commitments after winning the Dakar, it has been hard to keep up my training routine. Now I am focused on the world championship and recent testing in the sand of Morocco has gone well.”
  • Briton Sunderland added: "Being forced to retire from the Dakar was disappointing so I’m happy to feel no injuries. I’m really looking forward to getting back to racing and Abu Dhabi is like a home race for me."
  • Australian Price said: "After the Dakar I did some testing with Sébastien Loeb, which was a lot of fun. I also contested the Mint 400 in a truck. Hopefully I can get a good result."
  • Five-time bike winner Cyril Despres switches to a two-wheel drive SMG Buggy with the Frenchman facing competition from Luc Alphand and Kuba Przygonski.cThe 44-year-old explained: "I’ve never driven on four wheels in the deserts of Abu Dhabi before so I’m looking forward to that. There’s some fast guys and I’m aiming to be battling at the front with them."

*This bit might not be true...

With thanks to Red Bull