Cyril Despres battles elements to take lead in Abu Dhabi

Cyril Despres has taken the lead in the first day of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the second round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

Despres, who has won the event five times previously on a bike, holds a 5 minute 45 second lead over Bernhard Ten Brinke in his Mini John Cooper Works buggy, after a day of sandstorms, high winds and sizzling temperatures.

Ten Brinke encountered issues only 40 kilometres into the stage when a tyre on his Toyota Hilux came off its rim landing after a jump .

Third-placed Stephane Peterhansel had a similarly rocky start to the event suffering a gearbox issue as well as losing air conditioning in the sweltering heat.

Martin Prokop sits in fourth but has been unwell for the event so far, although this did not stop him from towing Jakub Przygonski for the final 5kms of the day.

Przygonski had been setting the pace until he was left stranded with a broken drive shaft and will start Monday in fifth.

Khalid Al Qassimi sits in sixth in his Peugeot 3008 DKR ahead of Aron Domzala who has also been suffering from illness.

Casey Currie is the lead driver of the T3 category in eighth ahead of Reinaldo Gugelmin in ninth and Vladimir Zhiltsov rounding out the top 10.