Agencies/Aktau City, Kazakhstan
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel emerged unscathed from yesterday’s 147.94km sixth stage of Rally Kazakhstan to secure the overall victory by the margin of 7min 43sec and the outright lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
After moving into the lead on day two of the 2,500km event across south-west Kazakhstan, the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux duo were never able to rest on their laurels on demanding special stages laid on across the Central Asian country’s Mangystau oblast. The quickest time on the final stage was sufficient for al-Attiyah to seal his third win of the season after victories in Dubai and Qatar.
A triumphant al-Attiyah said: “A great result for us. We played it smart from the very start. We pushed when we had to and had the right strategy. It was a really enjoyable rally, fantastic, and I am sure many more drivers will come in the future. Thanks to my team, Overdrive, and it was nice to win the last stage. Now we lead the championship and try to keep on like this.”
Poland’s Jakub Przygonski and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul delivered a second successive runner-up position on a long-distance round of the FIA World Cup and pressurised al-Attiyah hard throughout the six days. They led after day one and never gave the Qatari the opportunity to ease his pace. Przygonski climbs to third in the championship standings.
“The last stage was not easy,” said Przygonski. “There was a lot of water in the last part and it was hard to go fast but we are happy. We were pushing from the beginning to the end and it was a nice fight with Nasser. We enjoyed the race and the terrain in Kazakhstan. It has everything that is necessary in cross-country.”
Yazeed al-Rajhi and German navigator Timo Gottschalk won three of the event’s six selective sections but an accident and broken suspension on day one put paid to the Saudi challenging for the overall victory. He delivered an impressive performance in the new Mini John Cooper Works Rally nonetheless and reached Aktau in 11th overall.
Aron Domzala and new co-driver Maciej Marton enjoyed a successful first appearance in Kazakhstan and managed to bring the second of the Overdrive Toyotas to the finish in third to round off the podium places. The Pole threatened Przygonski’s hold on second overall for a couple of days before losing 10 minutes on the penultimate leg. Seventh-placed Yasir Saeidan of Saudi Arabia teamed up with Russian navigator Alexey Kuzmich at the 11th hour and the decision was a good one. The Toyota Land Cruiser driver dominated the T2 category from start-to-finish to extend his lead in the FIA T2 standings after five rounds.
Qatar’s defending FIA T2 champion Adel Abdulla was his closest rival in eighth overall, but the Nissan Patrol driver lost chunks of time with wiring loom issues early in the race and further time losses in the sand dunes hampered his progress. The Doha driver reached Aktau 3hrs 17min 14sec behind Saeidan in the overall classification with French co-driver Sébastien Delaunay.
The experienced Czech Miroslav Zapletal and his Slovenian navigator Marek Sykora recovered well from fourth stage suspension issues south of Zhanaozen to finish ninth overall in his Ford F-150, although they were the first of several crews to claim at least 100 hours of time penalties. Mohammed Abu Issa capped a thoroughly miserable week – where a multitude of problems had cost him time – by rolling his Mini All4 Racing gently on the last stage, although the Qatari and navigator Xavier Panseri did reach the finish in 15th position.
The final selective started 35.45km north of Aktau and included parts of the opening stage. The timed action ran for 147.94km and included repeat runs over the scenic tracks along the shores of the Caspian Sea run in the opposite direction. After the torrential rain that had battered the area on Wednesday night, rally officials sent a recce crew to drive through the stage again on Thursday.
The next round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies will be the Italian Baja from June 15th to 18th.
2017 Rally Kazakhstan positions
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 1hr 24min 58sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 1hr 26min 34sec
3. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO)
Hummer H3 Evo VII 1hr 26min 50sec
4. Yazeed al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Mini John Cooper Works Rally 1hr 28min 14sec
5. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 1hr 28min 50sec
6. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII 1hr 30min 02sec
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 19hrs 00min 20sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 19hrs 08min 03sec
3. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 19hrs 26min 37sec
4. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII 20hrs 38min 34sec
5. Yerden Shagirov (KAZ)/Dmitro Tsyro (UKR) Toyota Hilux 21hrs 36min 04sec
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country
Rally standings after round 5
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT) 150pts 2. Khalid al-Qassimi (ARE) 105pts
3. Jakub Przygonski (POL) 84pts
4. Aron Domzala (POL) 76pts
5. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) 68pts
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