MUSCAT: Rallying ace Emil Kneisser is renewing his winning partnership with the mighty Nissan Patrol for the first round of Emirates Desert Championship.

“When you’re powering through some of the most demanding terrain in the world in the Dubai desert you want to be in a Patrol. It isn’t called the ‘Hero of All Terrains in Life’ for nothing. I’m over the moon to be in the Nissan for the Desert Championship,” said Kneisser.

In his Nissan Patrol, Kneisser finished the first round in fifth place; however other drivers of the Patrol also secured the second and fourth positions showcasing the 4X4’s unique ability to dominate in the desert. The Emirates Desert Championship, a Baja rally, is expecting a record turnout for the 2014-15 season opener with over 100 competitors in action.

The 2014- 15 Baja series has also been extended from four to six rounds. Cars, buggies, bikes and quads are all in action in the Baja with the Desert Championship, the only UAE event to accommodate the four forms. Baja events are famous around the world. They are designed to make racing more accessible for those who have a passion for the desert. They are exhilarating, in your face, raw, and unforgiving – that’s why drivers like Kneisser and riders say they love them.

“These are no-prisoners rallies but I’m up for it and so is the Patrol. The latest generation Patrol was tailored to the requirements of the Middle East. This Desert Championship series will be extra-special,” said Kneisser, who first got behind a wheel at the age of nine. Samir Cherfan, managing director, Nissan Middle East, said the combination of the Patrol and Kneisser has been a winner from the start with in-class victories in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan 2014 and this year’s Sealines Cross Country Rally in Qatar.

“Nissan boasts a long and proud history in motor sport. It’s tremendous that we have Emil on board for the Desert Championship. He is an immense talent and the right man for the Patrol. He is passionate about rallying and passionate about the vehicle. Their combination hit the ground running with victories. “The ability of the Patrol is a rally situation certainly doesn’t surprise. There were 13,000 hours invested by our engineers developing the vehicle and carrying out rigorous testing in the Middle East before it went anywhere near the region’s showroom floors. We already knew how tough it was.”

Organised by the Emirates Motor Sport Federation, the Desert Championship series is run with the support of the Automobile and Touring Club (ATCUAE). Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president, ATCUAE said in a statement recently, “The championship has created a great atmosphere among competitors, and we’re optimistic that it can take another step forward this season.”

Each round of the Desert Championship comprises a short course rally whereby quads and bikes compete on one loop while cars and buggies are on another. “The Patrol boasts a storied history in the Middle East. This current model will add to that in a big way through its rallying achievements, with the Desert Championship series the current job at hand for Emil and vehicle,” Cherfan added.