Oskar Andersson was hoping to spend next week calling the shots for his buddy Tim Marklund as they make their World Rally-Raid Championship début in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Unfortunately for him, his passport has prevented that from occurring.
In an Instagram Story, Andersson explained his passport is set to expire in May but could not get it renewed prior to Abu Dhabi as the Swedish navigator was in the United States at the time that he decided to enter the race. This resulted in him being barred from making the direct flight and he instead had to fly in from Bangkok, Thailand, only to be further snagged in immigrations.
“My passport expires in May and as we were in the US when the decision to race was made I was unable to get it in time and we hoped it was a issue we could get sorted out when we got there. But unfortunately I weren’t able to board the plane to abu dhabi,” Andersson wrote. “So in a last minute attempt to convince the UAE authority’s I booked a ticket to Bangkok with a 24 hour layover in Dubai. But after discussing with both ambassy, airline, passport control and imigration for several of hours its impossible for me to enter and help my best friend in the dessert. Sad of course to miss this chance, but I’m confident Tim and his replacement co-driver will do good and next time I will by his side again.
“From a distance I will be rooting for @timmarklund the whole @southracing_canam team and @mattiasekstromracing and @emilbergkvist that made this possible for us. Be smoth and fast in the sand and hopefully you all will dominate the @abudhabidesertchallenge.”
Andersson would have been the co-driver to Marklund on the #322 Can-Am Maverick competing in T3; the entry is prepared by South Racing. The two are close friends who worked together in the Nordic SxS series during the winter. Although both are relatively new to SSV racing, having mainly competed in snowmobiles, they were able to finish runner-up in the championship and third in the team standings.
Nordic SxS was founded by fellow Swede Mattias Ekström, who is also racing a T3 for South at Abu Dhabi after contesting the Dakar Rally in an Audi T1.
With Anderson unavailable, Alexey Kuzmich will serve as Marklund’s navigator. Kuzmich worked with Yasir Seaidan in T4 at the season-opening Dakar Rally in January. In a sense, Abu Dhabi will be a “home race” of sorts for Kuzmich who competes under an Emirati licence as Russian racers are prohibited by the FIA from using their nation’s emblems due to the invasion of Ukraine.
Other changes between the initial entry list and the FIA’s final approved roster include Dmytro Tsyro taking over as Ricardo Ramilo‘s navigator on the #407 T4 from Andrei Rudnitski and François Cazalet becoming Pau Navarro‘s shotgun rider on the #401 T4 instead of Michaël Metge.
The Prologue is on Sunday.