Agencies Agadir, Morocco
Nissan’s Adel Hussein Abdulla overcame the rigours and demands of a punishing second leg of the OiLibya Rally of Morocco to hold a virtual second position in the T2 category as the route of the selective section entered a series of treacherous sand dunes in the desert yesterday afternoon.
Bidding to win the eighth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies to move to the top of the points’ standings in the FIA T2 Championship for Series Production Cross-Country Vehicles, the Qatari began the day a short distance behind his arch rival Yasir Saeidan and shadowed the Saudi through the stage to remain firmly in contention to push for the win over the next three days.
The Qatari is running a Nissan Patrol with support from Nissan Qatar, Nissan Middle East and the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and is working alongside French navigator Sebastien Delaunay for the first time.
“It is still early in the rally, but I am happy with my rhythm and everything is working well with my new co-driver,” said Adel Hussein.
“I am protecting the car at this stage of the rally. I am being clever, because there is still a long way to go and we have a Marathon stage coming up without service support and I want the car to be in a good condition for that.”
Adel Hussein headed into the second stage on Monday afternoon with a 40-second advantage over Saudi driver Abdullah Saleh in the T2 rankings, but he lost time in the special following behind a rival.
The time lost cost the Qatari his overall T2 lead and he reached the night halt in Agadir holding second position in the category, a mere 48 seconds behind Saiedan.
Abdullah Saleh was seven seconds further adrift in third and Abykayev was fourth.
Yesterday offered a demanding selective section of 291km through the Moroccan desert and a real taste of the demands of North Africa – a past home to several stages of the legendary Dakar Rally before it switched to South America on a permanent basis in 2009.
Saeidan was the fastest of the T2 runners at the first passage control checkpoint, after 61km, although Adel Hussein was a strong second followed by Abykayev and Qatar’s Mohamed al-Harqan.
The leading quartet held station through 105km and Adel Hussein tightened his grip on second position, behind Saeidan, through PC3, after 160km.
The route then headed towards a sting in the tail and a range of sand dunes near the finish and Adel Hussein was well placed behind Saiedan heading into the treacherous final kilometres, as Abykayev was delayed and several other rivals hit
Three further selective sections of 315km, 319km and 230km take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with the route heading from Agadir to a finish in Erfoud via the notorious Erg Chebbi on Friday afternoon.
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