IRC Top 20 placing for Skydive Dubai Rally Team after seven Ypres stages
Geko Ypres Rally, June 21-23, 2012
Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), round 6
For immediate release
Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
SKYDIVE DUBAI RALLY TEAM HOLDS 20th
AFTER SEVEN STAGES OF YPRES RALLY
· Finland’s Juho Hanninen leads Geko Ypres Rally after seven special stages
YPRES (Belgium): The Skydive Dubai Rally Team duo of Rashid Al-Ketbi and Khalid Al-Kendi held 20th position after seven asphalt special stages of the Geko Ypres Rally, held in tricky and changeable conditions in northern Belgium.
The sixth round of this year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) has attracted a bumper entry and Juho Hanninen was the early leader in his Skoda Fabia S2000, the Finn holding an advantage over Belgian Freddy Loix of 38.2 seconds. Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen had been Hanninen’s closest challenger before losing over a minute in a Belgian ditch and then breaking his Skoda’s suspension in SS7.
“It was a case of settling into the pace and gradually building up our momentum,” said Al-Ketbi. “This is a very difficult rally and a lot of the drivers have been here many times before. It has been very slippery and, when I saw a car crash early on, I knew that caution was the correct strategy.”
The Skydive Dubai Rally Team set the 32nd quickest time through the opening 14.30km Dikkebus stage on Friday evening, but slipped to 32nd after the second Westouter special where Hanninen moved 3.2 seconds in front of Mikkelsen in the overall rankings.
Al-Ketbi improved considerably on the third special stage and recorded the 28th fastest time to climb to 27th overall. Hanninen extended his advantage over Mikkelsen to 9.1 seconds with Loix in close attention.
The Dikkebus stage was repeated after service at the Ypres rally centre and Al-Ketbi was 19 seconds faster the second time through the tricky stage. The performance was sufficient to push him up to 24th overall.
The Emirati was now in a good rhythm and the 19th fastest time through stage five moved him up another place to 23rd, as Hanninen moved over 24 seconds in front of Loix when Mikkelsen slid off the road and lost over a minute in a ditch.
Al-Ketbi maintained his position through the Langemark stage and headed into the final day in 23rd overall. Hanninen held an overall advantage of 26.8 seconds and extended that through the demanding 26.75km Heuvelland special on Saturday morning where Mikkelsen lost fourth position with broken suspension.
Al-Ketbi was given a notional time in SS7 and climbed to 20th overall, but there was a long way to go before the 18th special stage, which was scheduled to finish in the early hours of Sunday morning (UAE time).
The Skydive Dubai Rally Team is running in the 2012 IRC under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council,
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, UK mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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