CC Al-Attiyah and Coma close in on Sealine Cross-Country Rally victories
Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar - April 15th-21st, 2012
2012 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 3
2012 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, round 2
For immediate release
Friday, April 20th 2012
AL-ATTIYAH AND COMA MOVE EVER CLOSER TO OUTRIGHT
VICTORIES IN QATAR’S SEALINE CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY
· Stage wins for Al-Attiyah, Paolo Goncalves and Lukasz Laskawiec
· Poland’s Laskawiec wins second quad stage; UAE’s Al-Kitbe leads
· Massive delays and a crash wreck Yazeed Al-Rajhi’s title hopes
SEALINE BEACH RESORT (Qatar): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Spain’s Marc Coma closed in on outright victories in the Sealine Cross-Country Rally after the tricky, penultimate 357.99km special stage in the southern Qatar desert on Friday
Al-Attiyah, driving a Toyota Hilux, comfortably set the fastest time in the car category to extend his overall lead to a massive 46min 09sec on a day where Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves won the motorcycle section and Poland’s Lukasz Laskawiec emerged on top in the quads for the second successive day.
Delays for both Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Mini) and Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) mean that Al-Attiyah and Coma are firm favourites to win the car and bike events on Saturday.
“It was a very technical and difficult stage but it was enjoyable and the result has put me in a very good position now,” said Al-Attiyah.
Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser set the second fastest time on the day’s stage and climbed to fourth overall and Argentina’s Lucio Alvarez moved ahead of the UAE’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei and into second position. A mere 48 seconds separate the Toyota and Mini drivers heading into the final day.
Qatar’s Faisal Al-Attiyah recovered from a gentle roll and the loss of considerable time to slip to fifth position in the overall rankings and Mubarak Al-Hajri suffered mechanical issues after running close to the top 10 early on in the big Chevrolet LS3.
“We lost our way a little during the stage and that cost me a bit of time,” said Al-Mutaiwei. “I took it a bit easier today. We were sometimes ahead of Schlesser and sometimes behind him. But I am happy with the position and need to stay in front of him on the final day for the sake of the championship.”
“I had a puncture and then stopped to check that Faisal and Matthieu were okay after their roll,” admitted Alvarez.
Coma was in superb form and took control of the motorcycle category after a dominant performance. He recorded the third fastest time behind stage winner Goncalves and Spaniard Jordi Viladoms and duly extended his overall lead over Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues to a comfortable 5m 59s.
Navigational woes and a crash on a high-speed corner cost Joan Barreda Bort dearly and his intended protest about a two-hour penalty imposed on Wednesday evening would have little effect after the Spaniard dropped a further 89 minutes on the day’s special.
Stage three - 357.99km
Both David Casteu and Alessandro Botturi restarted after previous day engine failures but Barreda Bort led Rodrigues and Coma into the longest special of the rally, where a strong early morning wind alleviated any dust issues. But the Spaniard was soon passed by Coma, who began to pull clear of Goncalves and Rodrigues at the head of the field.
The Catalan made a charge and reached the refuelling point 3m 05s clear of Goncalves. Lopez and Rodrigues followed soon afterwards, but the latter had dropped a crucial 9m 02s to Coma. Serious navigational delays and a crash cost Barreda Bort over 75 minutes.
After a slight delay, Al-Attiyah headed Al-Mutaiwei and Schlesser into the stage in the car category and began to pull away from his nearest rivals. Al-Rajhi was also on a charge and the flying Saudi stormed through the first two checkpoints to snatch a virtual 5m 17s from Al-Attiyah.
It was a stunning start by the Riyadh driver, as Schlesser reached the control third on the road and regained over three minutes of the time he had lost to Al-Mutaiwei on Thursday. But Yazeed was forced to stop and change a puncture shortly afterwards and lost over three minutes of his hard-earned stage advantage before losing further time with a navigational mistake.
Goncalves reached PC3 just behind bike leader Coma but it was Jordi Viladoms who claimed the virtual stage advantage heading into the final section of the special. Al-Attiyah was running well ahead of the rest of the cars and was unaware of Al-Rajhi’s problems behind. Schlesser reached the third control just in front of Al-Mutaiwei, but saw his virtual stage advantage over the Dubai driver reduced to 2m 14s. It was not enough.
Viladoms was eventually pipped to the stage win by Goncalves, but Coma was happy to sit back, take third position on the day’s stage and head for the overnight halt with a comfortable advantage over Rodrigues.
Al-Rajhi’s brave challenge ended shortly before the third passage control when the Saudi inverted his Mini All4 Racing. Neither he nor Portuguese co-driver Filipe Palmeiro were injured. Al-Attiyah coasted to the stage finish to record another fastest time and Alvaraz reached the end in third behind Schlesser, but benefited from Al-Rajhi’s demise to climb to second overall in his Toyota.
Tomorrow (Saturday), teams tackle a shorter 208.63km special stage that starts 71.64km from the Sealine campsite and finishes at the same place. The first bike leave the overnight halt at 05.45hrs and begins the special at 07.00hrs, with the leading car leaving at 07.00hrs and starting at 08.15hrs.
Triumphant riders and drivers will then attend the official post-event press conference at 14.30hrs, before the podium finish takes place at the bivouac from 16.00hrs.
Positions on SS3 (357.99km) - unofficial @ 12.50hrs
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Lucas Cruz Senra (ESP) Toyota Hilux 3h 25m 40s
2. Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA)/Konstantin Zlitstov (RUS) Schlesser Original 3h 41m 26s
3. Lucio Alvarez (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Toyota Hilux 3h 42m 24s
4. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei (UAE)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 3h 44m 34s
5. Boris Gadasin (RUS)/Dan Shchemel (RUS) G-Force Proto 3h 59m 20s
6. Patrick Sireyjol (FRA)/Francois-Xavier Beguin (BEL) SMG Buggy 4h 06m 38s
7. Ilya Kusnetsov (RUS)/Roman Elagin (RUS) BMW X3 CC 4h 08m 42s
8. Faisal Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota HiLux 4h 11m 57s
1. Paolo Goncalves (PRT) Husqvarna TE 449 RR 4h 22m 51s
2. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4h 22m 55s
3. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4h 24m 49s
4. Jakub Przygonski (POL) KTM 450 Rally 4h 24m 57s
5. Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez (CHI) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4h 25m 58s
6. Gerard Fares Guell (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4h 27m 01s
7. Ruben Faria (PRT) KTM Rally Replica 4h 28m 36s
8. Helder Rodrigues (PRT) Yamaha YZ 450 4h 29m 40s
9. Paolo Ceci (ITA) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4h 32m 47s
10. David Casteu (FRA Yamaha YZ 450 4h 38m 59s
14. Lukasz Laskawiec (POL) Yamaha YFM 700 R 4h 54m 12s
17. Obaid Al-Kitbe (UAE) Honda TRX 700 XX 5h 02m 28s
20. Luis Henderson (URY) Yamaha Raptor 700 5h 16m 18s
21. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 5h 19m 59s
22. Adel Hussain Abdullah (QAT) KTM 525 5h 25m 25s
Overall positions after SS3 (357.99km) - unofficial @ 12.50hrs
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Lucas Cruz Senra (ESP) Toyota Hilux 9h 27m 38s
2. Lucio Alvarez (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Toyota Hilux 10h 13m 47s
3. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei (UAE)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 10h 14m 35s
4. Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA)/Konstantin Zlitstov (RUS) Schlesser Original 10h 25m 16s
5. Faisal Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota HiLux 10h 44m 48s
6. Boris Gadasin (RUS)/Dan Shchemel (RUS) G-Force Proto 11h 05m 57s
7. Ilya Kusnetsov (RUS)/Roman Elagin (RUS) BMW X3 CC 11h 19m 16s
1. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 11h 58m 13s
2. Helder Rodrigues (PRT) Yamaha YZ 450 12h 04m 12s
3. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 12h 11m 00s
4. Jakub Przygonski (POL) KTM 450 Rally 12h 13m 11s
5. Ruben Faria (PRT) KTM Rally Replica 12h 17m 58s
6. Gerard Fares Guell (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 12h 23m 31s
7. Paolo Ceci (ITA) KTM 450 Rally Replica 12h 31m 49s
8. Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez (CHI) KTM 450 Rally Replica 12h 39m 42s
9. Matthew Fish (AUS) KTM 450 13h 01m 01s
10. Paolo Goncalves (PRT) Husqvarna TE 449 RR 13h 15m 39s
15. Obaid Al-Kitbe (UAE) Honda TRX 700 XX 14h 48m 19s
16. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 14h 55m 17s
19. Luis Henderson (URY) Yamaha Raptor 700 15h 02m 13s
21. Adel Hussain Abdullah (QAT) KTM 525 15h 35m 35s
23. Dennis Nikitopoulos (QAT) Yamaha Raptor 700 15h 46m 40s
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2012 Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar Mobile: + 974 554 79937, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases). Facebook group for information: 2011-2012 MERC.