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Algarve off-road bike racer Ruben Faria, called in as a late replacement for injured KTM team mate Cyril Despres, made a big impression at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

The 31-year-old, who began his career by financing his own Dakar Rally participation when that race still traversed the south of Portugal, captured the second stage of the first round of the sport’s world championship before finishing fourth in the final standings and now entertains realistic hopes of being amongst the starters again for next week’s second round in Qatar.