Alfie Cox showed that he could be a frontrunner in the 2004 Dakar rally by finishing second overall in 1 934-km UAE Desert Challenge on Friday.

Alfie Cox showed that he could be a frontrunner in the 2004 Dakar rally by finishing second overall in 1 934-km UAE Desert Challenge on Friday.


Friday's section was raced over two special stages. The first was a 202-km section starting at Thanwaniyah, for which the South African Gauloises KTM rider set the fastest time. Cox described the section as 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 1 934 km was covered, of which 1 462km were special stages.


“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 Cox.


Cyril Despres repeated last year's success by winning the event, followed by Cox and Marek Dabrowski from Poland, now the world’s number two rider, who finished third overall.


“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,” Cox said.


Cox added: “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