CC Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei holds unofficial fourth in Italian Baja
2012 FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES
19th Italian Baja, March 15-18, 2012
For immediate release
Saturday, March 17th, 2012
DUBAI’S KHALIFA AL-MUTAIWEI HOLDS FOURTH OVERALL
IN ITALIAN BAJA AFTER SATURDAY’S FIRST SPECIAL STAGE
· Van Merksteijn leads Italian Baja after first stage on Saturday
· Fazza’s Al-Mutaiwei ‘unofficially’ quickest in super special
· Russia’s Boris Gadasin troubled by engine problems
PORDENONE (Italy): Dubai’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz held an unofficial fourth overall after the first of two demanding special stages in Saturday’s second leg of the 19th Italian Baja, round one of the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
“God willing all is well, especially after seven years away from racing,” said an upbeat Al-Mutaiwei. “The first 60km of the morning’s stage were very rough and extremely difficult. The stage is also full of water and the windscreen began to mist up for the last five kilometres, which cost us some time. It is still early with three long stages to go. Step-by-step I am raising my game.”
The Fazza Rally Team duo had set the ‘unofficial’ joint quickest time in Friday afternoon’s 11km Meduna special stage that heralded the start of a new season of FIA World Cup events on a challenging route, near Pordenone, in north-east Italy. But a timing error by Italian organisers had the Emirati down in fourth position and the results were declared unofficial.
Driving a Mini All4 Racing prepared by Sven Quandt’s X-raid team and run under the patronage of Dubai’s crown prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Al-Mutaiwei settled in well with his new car and was well placed against the likes of the Russian duo of Boris Gadasin and Vladimir Vasilyev and Dutchman Peter van Merksteijn.
It was an encouraging start for the 2004 FIA World Cup champion. He managed to beat Finland’s talented Toni Gardemeister by over eight seconds in the unofficial results and was comfortably quicker than twice Dakar champion Jean-Louis Schlesser.
The real meat of the action began on Saturday morning with the first run through the 80.71km Tagliamento stage and one of the pre-event favourites, Boris Gadasin, succumbed to engine problems as Van Merksteijn set the early target time on the stage of 54m 30.1s in his Overdrive-run Toyota Hi-Lux. Al-Mutaiwei reached the stage finish in 55m 51.6s, which was the fifth quickest time on the varied special.
Van Merksteijn was actually credited with the fastest time and headed into Saturday afternoon’s second run through the Tagliamento special with an unofficial outright lead of 16.6 seconds over Vasilyev’s G-Force Proto.
Crews will tackle two further special stages on Sunday before the event draws to a close on Sunday afternoon.
19th Italian Baja – positions after SS2 (Saturday – unofficial @ 10.45hrs):
1. P. Van Merksteijn (NED)/E. Chevaillier (BEL) Toyota Hi-Lux 1h 02m 28.6s
2. V. Vasilyev (RUS)/V. Yevtyyekhov (RUS) G-Force Proto 1h 04m 17.9s
3. T. Gardemeister (FIN)/A. Petersons (LVA) Mitsubishi Pajero 1h 05m 16.8s
4. K. Al-Mutaiwei (UAE)/A. Schulz (GER) Mini All4 Racing 1h 05m 34.0s
5. M. Zapletal (CZE)/M. Janacek (CZE) BMW X3 1h 05m 37.3s
6. P. Larini (ITA)/P. Musacchia (ITA) Mitsubishi L200 1h 07m 50.5s, etc
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