The upcoming Dakar Rally is important not only because it is the most difficult challenge for the racers of the entire season, but also because it is the first round of the World Rally-Raid Championship. This is exactly how the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team put their calendar, whose athletes planned to pack their things and go to the second round of the World Championship in Abu Dhabi in February, as soon as they returned from the sands of Dakar, but the plans were disrupted by the events at the Suez Canal.
The war between Israel and Hamas has alarmed the entire region, and last week there were reports of attacks by Houthi rebels on one of the world's most important shipping channels in the Red Sea. Attacks on cargo ships from the territory of Yemen are likely to affect many areas of the global economy, since about 12 percent of world trade, including 30 percent of global container traffic pass through here. It is through here that the racing equipment of those who start at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was supposed to go to the United Arab Emirates. And although the company on which the sports equipment was supposed to be transported has not yet announced the changes to the shipping routes, the announcements of many major carriers about the suspension of shipping through the Suez Canal have caused a lot of anxiety and risk.
"On Thursday, we had to prepare equipment for loading onto the ship, and the day before I received news about the current situation. One option was to take a risk and hope for the best, but the risk here had a very clear financial expression, which our team did not foresee, and with the available budget we simply cannot afford to take such a risk. There is a possibility to send quads by air transport, but this also increases our expenses significantly," said Antanas Kanopkinas, who is preparing for the Dakar Rally, about the situation.
The athlete says that although the whole team was very much looking forward to the competition in the United Arab Emirates, but after assessing the situation, it was necessary to make quick decisions and change the season calendar. Instead of the second round of the World Rally Raid Championship, the team has already started registration for the Hellas Rally in Greece in May and is also considering taking part in the BAJA Championship rounds in Spain and Poland.
"In this sport, you need to be able to react quickly and decisively. This can be applied both when driving on the track and when making strategic team decisions. It's no secret that the race in Abu Dhabi was one of the most awaited by all team members, but new countries and an adjusted calendar seem no less exciting and interesting," said A. Kanopkinas.
The closest test of the team is waiting at the Dakar Rally starting on January 5th, where A. Kanopkinas will start in one of the most difficult ATV class.