We’re just gonna put it out there: We’re seriously jealous of Balazs Szalay and Laszlo Bunkoczi.
Szalay and Bunkoczi, driver and co-driver of the Opel Dakar Team, are about to partake in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, a hellish trek through the Liwa Desert and Moreeb Area of the “Empty Quarter”, reports Sport360.
With a name that sounds more at home in the “Twilight Zone”, the “Empty Quarter” (aka the Rub’ al Khali desert) is a vast sand dune that comprises a massive stretch of the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, it’s the second-largest sand desert in the world.
“The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is one of the sternest tests for any rally driver”, said Szalay.
While we’d be more than a little terrified of even stepping foot into such a massive area of nothingness, we’d be a lot more confident tackling the dunes in the Opel Dakar Team vehicle, a desert-spec Opel Mokka.
Better known to us as the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax, this particular Mokka has been thoroughly prepped to ride the dunes. AWD? Check. Raised suspension? Check. Bigger fuel tank? Check. Carbon-fibre reinforced bodywork? Check. 6.2L V8 engine? Check and check.
All in, the little subcompact puts a hefty 380hp to the wheels through a X-trac six-speed sequential gearbox, which was specially manufactured for the Mokka.
The CUV can hit 60mph in 7.4 seconds and can charge to a top speed of 180km/h (111mph). Of course, the little Mokka wasn’t designed for 0-60mph dashes and top-speed runs; we imagine most of its grunt is delivered through the mid-range.
The rally kicks off today and runs until April 2nd.