CC Relentless Al Attiyah cruises through the Rub Al Khali

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

Leg 3: Moreeb Hill to Moreeb Hill: liaison, 54.34km; special, 340.00km; liaison, 0km; total, 394.34 km.

For immediate release
Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


· X-raid's Novitskiy loses second place with mechanical problems

MOREEB HILL (UAE): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner remained in a different class to the rest of the field through the gruelling third leg of the 2008 UAE Desert Challenge on Wednesday.

The X-raid pair extended their massive 1h 35m overnight lead to 2h 51m 50s after a demanding 340.60km selective section across some of the world's harshest terrain, as the BMW X3 CC crew close in on one of the greatest one-sided victories in the history of cross-country rallying. The event finishes on Friday (October 31st).
X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin began leg three in second overall, but succumbed to engine belt woes after the first passage control and lost their place in the top three.

"It was another good day for us," said Al-Attiyah. "But the sand was very soft in places and we did get stuck near the finish. I had to use the sand plates to help us out and we lost a few minutes."

The X-raid crews began this morning's selective section from first and third positions out of the 34 surviving cars, but Novitskiy had passed the UAE's Yayha Al-Helai by the first passage control, although he had lost a further nine minutes to a charging Al-Attiyah.

The first two passage controls were close together and Al-Attiyah had passed the second checkpoint by the time the 16th car had reached the same point for the first time. He was running 32 minutes in front of Al-Helai on the stage, but Novitskiy stopped with a damaged engine belt and lost over two hours making emergency repairs.

Al-Attiyah cruised through PC3 at 225.52km in 2h 50m 14s and had extended his overall lead over Al-Helai by another 38 minutes, as a resurgent Krzysztof Holowczyc moved into second place on the stage and back into the overall top five.

The Qatari maintained his push towards a maiden FIA World Cup title through the fourth PC and eventually finished the stage nearly 68 minutes clear of his nearest UAE challenger. Novitskiy passed the final PC in 22nd place on the stage and eventually finished the special to maintain his place inside the top 10 in the general classification.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the penultimate day of this year's event and the day's route consists of a short 6.50km run out to the start of the 314.95km special and a 122.20 road section back to the bivouac after another punishing day's action in the sand dunes and across the treacherous soft sand that makes this event such a unique challenge.

2008 UAE Desert Challenge

Positions on leg 3 (unofficial @ 14.30 CET):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC   4h 40m 41s
2. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol   5h 48m 29s
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara  5h 58m 09s
4. Aurelijus Petraitis (LT)/Antanas Juknevicius (LT) Oscar  6h 05m 48s
5. Joseph Rosso (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pathfinder   6h 07m 14s

Positions after leg 3 (unofficial @ 14.30 CET):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC   11h 18m 37s
2. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol   14h 10m 27s 
3. Laurent Rosso (F)/Fabian Lurquin (B) Nissan Pathfinder   15h 26m 05s
4. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara  15h 51m 19s
5. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC  15h 53m 14s

6.  Abdullah Al-Herais (UAE)/Haleem Bin Zayed (UAE) Nissan Patrol 17h 04m 28s
7. Joseph Rosso (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pathfinder   17h 07m 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: 29/10/2008

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