Cooper-shod Schlesser wins sixth Desert Challenge win
Jean-Louis Schlesser won the 2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for a record-breaking sixth time on Cooper’s Discoverer STT tyre. Cooper says the tyre excels in these extreme conditions, with an aggressive tread pattern and tapered stone ejectors, which help prevent stones and debris lodging in the tread, keeping them clear and maintaining traction. Schlesser’s victory meant he took the overall points lead in the 2012 FIA World Cup Cross-Country Rallies Championship.
Fighting off a late challenge from Dubai’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei, Schlesser and his Russian co-driver, Konstantin Zhilstov, finished the final 287.32km stage in a time of 3 hours 8 minutes 57 seconds – a strong 59 minutes ahead of their closest rival.
Schlesser commented: “I am very happy with this victory. Since last year, we’ve been developing our car which is now very comfortable on this type of terrain. It was still very hot, which makes it quite difficult for both the machine and the crew. We had to go really fast without breaking anything. Konstantin did a great job throughout and we both know a race is never won until you have crossed the finish line.”
Racing for the Sonangol Race Team, Schlesser and Zhilstov made full use of their Cooper Discoverer STT tyres throughout the event to battle the sand dunes of the Emirates. The rally is renowned for its treacherously soft sand and extreme high temperatures, making it one of the ultimate tests for both man and machine. If taken too slowly, the two-wheel drive vehicles can get entrenched in the sand, meaning the tyres have to provide plenty of traction and grip over the unique surface.
Ex-Formula 1 driver and endurance rally veteran, Schlesser, had already taken victory using Cooper rubber earlier in the year. The Discoverer STT was used by the Frenchman when he won his fourth consecutive Africa Eco Race at the start of 2012. Schlesser and his co-driver Cyril Esquirol tackled 5,000km between Nador in Morocco and Kebemer in Senegal, finishing three hours ahead of their nearest rival.
The crew also came fourth overall, using the tyre in the first round of the Cross-Country Rally World Cup. The Italian Baja took place near Venice, where the Sonangol team also won the two-wheel drive buggy class.