CC Al Attiyah clinches FIA Baja title with Hungarian win

HUNGARIAN BAJA (August 22nd-24th, 2008)
FIA Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 4 of 5 (Baja GB cancelled)

For immediate release
Sunday, August 24th, 2008


X-raid Russia's Novitskiy seals second overall
Frenchman Chicherit delayed with mechanical problems

BALATONFÜRED (Hungary): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner clinched an emphatic victory for the AlgoDyne Green Power Racing Team in the Hungarian Baja and the Qatari duly won the 2008 FIA Cup for Cross-Country Bajas title with his fourth successive outright victory of the season in a BMW X3 CC.

Al-Attiyah had to fight back from suspension problems to overhaul the X-raid Russia crew of Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin, who held the overall advantage heading into Sunday's remaining three selective sections.

The Russian eventually finished a fine second overall, but suspension damage dropped Al-Attiyah's team mates, Guerlain Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel, down the leader board on Saturday, although the French duo restarted on Sunday in their Trebur-built BMW X3 CC and set a trio of top three stage times.

"It was not easy to win this race and I had to come back from problems on Saturday to seal victory," enthused Al-Attiyah, who has now taken outright Baja victories in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain and Hungary this season for X-raid.

"The whole team is gaining in experience and confidence and this is a fantastic win for me and X-raid. It is a great feeling to win again and take our fourth win of the season. I have a good feeling about the car and am looking forward to keeping up this form over the coming weeks."
"This is another great win for our team and another huge leap forward," said X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "It was not an easy race at all. We had several obstacles to overcome. We learned at the Central Europe Rally earlier in the year that these stages are difficult and a good test for the car.

"Now Nasser has taken the FIA title we can look ahead to the next challenge of coming up against Volkswagen and Mitsubishi to see how we get on against them as all the teams continue their preparations for the Dakar in 2009."

Run by the Garzone Racing Organisation, the Hungarian Baja kicked off with a short prologue stage at Jutaspuszta on Friday and Chicherit set the fastest time of 6m 03s in his BMW X3 CC to edge into a one-second advantage over Al-Attiyah.

Novitskiy was a further 18 seconds adrift, but the AlgoDyne Green Racing Team trio held the top three places heading into the first of two punishing days of selective sections. Russian Boris Gadasin, Al-Attiyah's main rival for the Baja title, was fourth overall.

The X-Raid trio continued to maintain two of the top three positions after Saturday's selective sections around Jutaspuszta and Újmajor, Novitskiy holding the advantage in the X-raid Russia X3 CC.

The Russian was classified 38 seconds in front of Gadasin, with Al-Attiyah down in third position, 1m 24s behind his team mate, after suffering a broken top shock absorber mounting after hitting a large hole earlier in the day.

"Nasser hit a large hole and damaged the top mount on a shock absorber," confirmed Quandt. "We had to make some repairs in service and carry out some welding and that cost Nasser an extra 13 minutes of road penalties."

Last year's Hungarian Baja winner Miroslav Zapletal was fourth, but Chicherit had slipped out of contention after losing massive time with a broken bolt. The Frenchman hit the same hole as Al-Attiyah and incurred extensive time penalties.

The close nature of the overall classification set up the possibility of a fascinating tussle between Novitskiy, Al-Attiyah and Gadasin over Sunday's runs around Jutaspuszta, Újmajor and Hajmáskér to bring crews to the finish at the Balatonfüred Tagore walkway on the shores of Lake Balaton.

Gadasin lost 23 minutes in the opening section and slipped to seventh, but Al-Attiyah was the fastest man on the opening 47.49km stage and edged into a tie with Novitskiy, with both drivers recording an overall scratch time of 4h 41m 45s.

Chicherit set the fastest time on the opening section, as the X-raid crews headed into the final two sections of 63.91km and 47.49km.

Al-Attiyah hit the front after the subsequent selective section and headed into the final 47.49 kilometres with a 2m 27s advantage over his Russian colleague. The Qatari had recovered superbly from Saturday's delays and was on course for the FIA Baja title and a clean sweep of four successive Baja wins in 2008. Chicherit maintained his climb up the leader board with the second fastest time.

Al-Attiyah made no mistake over the closing kilometres and reached the finish on the shores of Lake Balaton, 4m 34s in front of Novitskiy, with Zapletal in third position.

Following the news that the Baja GB has been cancelled, Al-Attiyah now has an unassailable lead in the FIA Baja Cup prior to the final round of the series in  Portugal in the autumn.

2008 Hungarian Baja - final results
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC  5h 55m 46s
2. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC    6h 00m 20s
3. Miroslav Zapletal (CZ)/Tomas Ourednicek (CZ) Mitsubishi Strakar 6h 14m 46s
4. László Palik (H)/Gábor Darázsi (H) Nissan Navara   6h 16m 49s
5. Boris Gadasin (RUS)/Sergey Talentsev (RUS) Nissan Navara  6h 21m 44s
6. Tonnie van Deijne (NL)/Wouter Rosegaar (NL) Mitsubishi L200  6h 22m 53s
7. Károly Fazekas (H)/Albert Horn (H) BMW X5   6h 26m 48s
8. Janis Naglis (LV)/Janis Naglis Jnr (LV) Mitsubishi Pajero  6h 39m 53s
9. Tino Schmidt (D)/Philippe Tiefenbach (D) Mitsubishi Pajero   6h 47m 54s
10. Janis Azis (LV)/Ainaris Princis (LV) Oscar 03   7h 00m 39s
TBA. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC  19h 13m 37s

2008 FIA Cup for Cross-Country Bajas
Positions after round 4 of 5 - (unofficial)
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)  60 pts*
2. Boris Gadasin (RUS)  26 pts
3. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)  16 pts
4. Laszlo Palik (H)   15 pts
5. Tonnie van Deijne (NL)  14 pts
6. Miroslav Zaplatel (CZ)  13 pts
7. Joan Roma (E)   11 pts, etc
* denotes 2008 FIA Cup for Cross-Country Bajas champion


Further information and photos are available at www.x-raid.de or contact Yvette Theisen at X-raid GmbH, Tel: + 49 (0) 6147 204670, E-mail: y.theisen@x-raid.de.

Date issued: 24/08/2008

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