Alfie Cox, racing for the Gauloises KTM team, finished second overall at the end of the 1934km UAE Desert Challenge. Cox is back, performing as consistent as we came to know him. A real warning was sent to the world’s top competitors and the newly crowned world champion, France’s Cyril Despres that “the old man” (as Despres called him in an interview) is a factor to reckon with in the 2004 Dakar. -

- Today's section was raced over two special stages. Firstly a 202km section starting at Thanwaniyah, for which the South African Cross Country Master, Alfie Cox, set the fastest time during what he described to be a” hair-raising stage” where Italian biker, Loris Volpato, crashed his Yamaha 450 heavily and sustained rib injuries. -

- After passing Nahel Town, the second special stage of 191.25 km was run to the finish in Emirates Road, near Jebel Ali South. In total, a distance of 1934 km was covered, of which 1462km were special stages. -

- "It will probably sink in, in a couple of days that I am World Champion," said the newly crowned FIA car champion Carlos Sousa from Portugal, " This rally here was the most difficult round of the championship without doubt." -

- “I am very happy and really excited about the second place in this event. Thinking logically, I crashed out in Dakar in January, and did my first racing for the year three weeks ago in Egypt. To come here and finish in second place behind the new world champion and ahead of the world’s number two rider is definitely very positive to me,” said a happy Cox at the finish. -

- Cyril Despres repeated last year's success by winning the UAE Desert Challenge, which finished at the DIMC in Dubai this afternoon (Friday). South African Alfie Cox won the first of today's two stages on his way to yet another second place and a delighted Marek Dabrowski from Poland, now the world’s number two rider, finished third overall behind Cox. -

- “I came here to test my fitness, speed, navigation ability, and the strength of my shoulder against the world’s best and I am very satisfied with the outcome. We have one more test session in a few weeks and I look forward to that. I need as much time in the seat as I can find,” commented Cox-

- Asked what lies ahead, Cox explained: “My training program will now intensify, ensuring that I am top-fit for Dakar. I need to do a little motocross training to keep my forearms strong and I need to strengthen the skin in my hand-palms after blistering them badly in Egypt. Preparing emotionally for Dakar is as important as physically because you are out racing everyday for 20 odd days at end and you need to remain focussed and positive throughout, otherwise you cannot do well.” -

- Final overall positions after Leg 4 - Motorcycles (unofficial) -

- 1. Cyril Despres (F) KTM 660 Rally 16h 24m 09s-

- 2. Alfie Cox (ZA) KTM 16h 30m 08s-

- 3. Marek Dabrowski (PL) KTM 660 Rally 16h 34m 22s-

- 4. Jacek Czachor (PL) KTM 660 Rally 16h 43m 30s-

- 5. Pal-Anders Ullesvalseter (N) KTM Rally 16h 55m 54s-

- 6. Andrew Caldecott (AUS) KTM 660 17h 11m 01s-

- 7. Francois Flick (F) KTM 660 17h 40m 34s-


Original article from Car