CC BMW team heads off into the distance in UAE Desert Challenge

UAE DESERT CHALLENGE (October 25th-31st, 2008)
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country rallies, final round

Leg 2: Moreeb Hill to Moreeb Hill: liaison, 81.15km; special, 296.75km; liaison, 0km; total, 377.90 km.

For immediate release
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008


X-raid's Novitskiy maintains second place after minor problems

MOREEB HILL (UAE): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner cruised to another emphatic stage win on the second leg of the 2008 UAE Desert Challenge on Tuesday.

The X-raid team duo had completed the gruelling 296.75km special before any of their rivals had even reached the fourth passage control, 67km behind, and the flying BMW X3 CC driver now has a stunning overall lead of 1h 35m 01s.

Russian team mates Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin were delayed with a minor engine problem and a delay in soft sand early in the stage, but recovered to set the third fastest time and maintain second overall, as the punishing terrain took its toll on the rest of the field.

"It was another fantastic day for me, but the stage was not easy," said Al-Attiyah. "I remember driving this stage last year, but the sand was very soft in places today and it could be very difficult for some of the drivers.

"We had a new suspension set-up and it worked well. I was able to push, find a nice line and a good rhythm. Tomorrow we may try another suspension set-up, but I will try and keep to a fast pace, without taking any risks."

"The objective of the entry in this rally was to test the car in extreme temperatures and we have been very pleased with the improvements we have made over the last few months," said X-raid director Sven Quandt.

"We can see from the performance of the car that there is a big improvement. Today was very difficult. It was hot and the sand was soft. Nasser has a big lead and that gives us an opportunity to try a few new ideas and test some more over the next few days."

Twelve months ago Al-Attiyah had been embroiled in a fascinating tussle on the second leg of the UAE Desert Challenge with Frenchman Luc Alphand. The Qatari again led the surviving 37 cars into leg two but, on this occasion, Novitskiy was his closest challenger.

The X-raid duo started the selective section in slightly cooler morning temperatures than they had experienced with the later start from Abu Dhabi on Monday and Al-Attiyah edged a further six minutes in front of Holowczyc at the first passage control (70.30km), which he reached in just under an hour.

But Novitskiy dropped seven minutes with a minor engine problem and was shadowed by the UAE's Yayha Al-Helai through the passage control. Al-Attiyah continued his race into the distance through the second and third controls and had gained a further 10 minutes on his Polish rival at the 160.80km point.

Al-Helai passed Novitskiy heading into the second passage control, but the Russian shadowed the UAE driver to the third PC. Several drivers were running faster than the X-raid driver in the stage and the earlier delays pushed the Russian down to a virtual third in the overall classification behind Holowczyc.

Al-Attiyah cruised to the finish in just over 4h 08m, although none of his rivals had reached PC4 when the Qatari crossed the finish line. Holowczyc was delayed between PC3 and PC4 and Al-Helai and Novitskiy found themselves running back in second and third on the stage, positions they both held to the finish.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the second of the loop sections through the sand dunes and along the remote sand trails around Moreeb Hill and offers a selective section of 340.60km in a total route of 394.34km.

After a 54.30km run out to the stage start, there will be four passage controls at the 74.12km, 167.55km, 225.52km and 284km points, before teams return for a third night at Moreeb Hill.

2008 UAE Desert Challenge

Positions on leg 2 (unofficial @ 4.30pm):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC   4h 08m 27s
2. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol   5h 18m 07s
3. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC   5h 25m 17s
4. Laurent Rosso (F)/Fabian Lurquin (B) Nissan Pathfinder   5h 34m 21s
5. Ali Al-Shawi (UAE)/Yayha Al-Amri (UAE) Nissan Patrol  5h 58m 45s
6. Jun Mitsuhashi (J)/Akira Muira (J) Toyota Land Cruiser  6h 15m 30s

Positions after leg 2 (unofficial @ 4.30pm): 
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC   6h 37m 56s
2. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC   8h 12m 57s
3. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol   8h 21m 58s 
4. Laurent Rosso (F)/Fabian Lurquin (B) Nissan Pathfinder   8h 48m 09s
5. Jun Mitsuhashi (J)/Akira Muira (J) Toyota Land Cruiser   9h 31m 45s
6. Ali Al-Shawi (UAE)/Yayha Al-Amri (UAE) Nissan Patrol  9h 40m 15s
7. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara  9h 53m 20s
8. Abdullah Al-Herais (UAE)/Haleem Bin Zayed (UAE) Nissan Patrol 9h 53m 45s


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: 28/10/2008

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