By Sports Reporter/Losail
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel overcame hefty penalties that were added to their overall time to regain the outright lead with the fastest time on the 340.54km selective section of the Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally yesterday.
The Toyota Hilux driver started the day with a stage lead of 16min 07sec, but incurred 15 minutes of time penalties for missing a waypoint and a further two for a speeding violation. He came under fierce pressure early in the day’s special in the north of Qatar from closest Polish rival Jakub Przygonski in an X-raid-run Mini John Cooper Works Rally, but the former enduro rider ceded time from then on and now trails the Qatari by 7min 26sec.
The day’s 340.54km selective section began to the north of Losail and passed around the northern extremities of the country before cutting across the uppermost deserts to run down the western coast to finish off the Al-Kharsaah Road, west of Doha.
Al-Attiyah said: “We did a good job today after the road penalties and we pushed for the last 180km. We felt a piece of the right rear tyre coming off because of the heat, but we decided to continue. I am quite happy to have had a good stage. Tomorrow we need to make a good time in the dunes at the start of the stage.”
Talking about his performance, Przygonski said, “It is a tough race with the navigation and a lot can happen. We know there are tough penalties for missing waypoints. We had to be really focused. In the beginning we were quite fast and, in the middle, we were too slow.
“We lost some time with the navigation and then we pushed for the last 100km and gained some time. Still the fight is on. One small mistake in navigation and you can lose all the time. The dunes may be an advantage to Nasser. He knows the area and they are not big dunes. He may win some time there but, at least, we will have his line.”
Vladimir Vasilyev benefited from time penalties for both Yasir Seaidan and Aron Domzala, but that did not detract from an excellent stage performance by the Russian in his G-Energy Team MINI One. He carded the third quickest time to move up to a similar position in the overall rankings.
Despite his own time penalties, Saudi Arabia’s Seaidan held fifth position, while Domzala held fourth in the third of the Toyotas.
FIA World Cup leader Martin Prokop completed the day with the sixth quickest time to maintain a similar place in the overall standings. He remains on track for a vital haul of championship points.
Dutchman Erik van Loon suffered a gentle roll shortly after the fourth passage control and lost the chance of a top-five stage finish. He will incur hefty penalties before the restart today after waiting for a fellow competitor to tow the Toyota back on to its wheels.
Qatar’s Adel Abdulla stayed out of trouble over the treacherous terrain and maintained a safe pace to extend his T2 category lead in a Nissan Patrol Y62 backed by the QMMF and Ooredoo. All his rivals suffered long delays in the desert.
A focused Adel said: “We decide to push again today to make even more of a gap. We were pushing hard, but fast and clean. When we reached some tough places we slowed down and then we pushed again. We had only one flat tyre and we stopped to change it - no other problems. The navigation was really tricky, particularly at the beginning and in the middle of the stage.
“Nasser (al-Kuwari) did a good job. We work together to share information and we are happy. When you go very slow you make mistakes, but we will take no risks now. We will try to find a good way to finish. The dunes tomorrow are in our area. We are able to deflate the tyres and stop and put the pressure back, so no need to take risks.”
Frenchman Claude Fournier extended his advantage in T3 after further delays for Spain’s José Luis Pena Campo, Italy’s Michele Cinotto and Spaniard Santiago Navarro.
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3hrs 07min 36sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 3hrs 15min 55sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI One 3hrs 17min 04sec
4. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3hrs 19min 16sec
5. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3hrs 34min 38sec
6. Martin Prokop (CZE)/David Pabi?ka (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 4hrs 11min 14sec
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 7hrs 03min 17sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 7hrs 10min 48sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI One 7hrs 29min 04sec
4. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 7hrs 53min 30sec
5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 8hrs 08min 56sec
6. Martin Prokop (CZE)/David Pabi?ka (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 9hrs 02min 12sec
7. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Nasser al-Kuwari (QAT) Nissan Patrol Y62 (T2) 10hrs 13min 48sec
8. Claude Fournier (FRA)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Polaris RZR 1000 (T3) 11hrs 11min 02sec
1. Maciej Giemza (POL) KTM 450 Rally Replica 11hrs 54min 08sec
2. Aleksandr Maksimov (RUS) Yamaha YFM 700R 14hrs 25min 49sec
3. Kees Koolen (NLD) Barren Racer BR 1690 15hrs 06min 08sec
Sports Minister praises performance of al-Attiyah, Abdulla
Minister of Culture and Sports HE Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali yesterday praised the performance of Qatari racers Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah and Adel Abdulla who lead the Qatar Cross-Country Rally in their respective categories.
HE Minister of Culture and Sports said in a statement that the Qatar rally is one of the most difficult cross-country rallies, and the performance of the two Qataris is proof that Qatar produces outstanding young talent in various sports.
The minister added that al-Attiyah’s performance at the event was nothing new, as the two-time Dakar Rally champion always shined in international and regional competitions. Al-Attiyah’s achievements across events are cherished and respected, he said, adding that the rally star is an example to all Qatari youth who are aiming for big achievements.
The minister expressed hope that al-Attiyah wins the event in order to reduce the gap in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies standings with his rivals, especially after he couldn’t participate in the second and third rounds of the series.
Talking about Adel Abdulla, the minister said that he too is a distinguished driver, and has had some good results in the T2 category. Winning the Qatar Rally will send Abdulla to the top of the standings in the category.
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