CC Al-Mutaiwei faces fight back through field in Baja Poland
2012 FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES
Baja Poland, September 7-9, 2012
For immediate release
Saturday, September 8th 2012
UAE’S KHALIFA AL-MUTAIWEI FACES FIGHT
BACK THROUGH FIELD IN BAJA POLAND
· Fazza Rally Team star trails rival Schlesser by 51 seconds
· Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal takes early lead in Baja Poland
SZCZECIN (Poland): Dubai’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz face a fight back through the leader board in this weekend’s Baja Poland if they are to remain on top of the rankings in the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
The Fazza Rally Team duo set the fifth fastest time in Friday evening’s Prologue stage and were lying third on Saturday’s first selective section before an indiscretion cost the Mini All4 Racing driver around eight minutes. Al-Mutaiwei headed into the second of Saturday’s stages lying in 10th overall, two places and 51 seconds behind main championship rival Jean-Louis Schlesser.
Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal held a slender outright lead from Russian Vladimir Vasilyev.
Vasilyev won the timed Prologue stage on Friday evening after the ceremonial start in Szczecin. The G-Force Proto driver recorded a time of 11min 10.8sec for the opening stage to beat closest rival Miroslav Zapletal by 9.5secs. Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc finished third and Al-Mutaiwei was fifth behind Baja Hungary winner Boris Gadasin.
“There was a rain shower before the start of the stage, which made it quite tricky,” admitted Al-Mutaiwei. “The stage was very twisty, narrow and bumpy and it was too easy to make a mistake.”
That result determined the starting order for the first of the two selective sections on Saturday, with the event taking place around a military area littered with ditches, undulations and terrain built to assess the prowess of vehicles such as tanks.
“I was quite happy not to be starting from the front of the field and, therefore, clearing and cleaning the stages for the others,” added the Dubai driver, who admits that his main priority is to finish the event in front of FIA World Cup rival Jean-Louis Schlesser.
Vasilyev continued where he left off on Friday evening by setting the quickest time to the first of the major checkpoints, the Russian starting the second section of the stage a mere 1.9 seconds in front of Zapletal to extend his virtual lead to 11.4 seconds. Al-Mutaiwei reached the control with the third quickest time and moved up to a virtual third overall in the overall rankings, 13.8 seconds in front of Gadasin and well ahead of eighth-placed Schlesser.
But the Fazza Rally Team driver suffered an indiscretion on the remaining section of the stage and dropped eight minutes to the leaders and slipped to 10th in the overall standings and, more importantly, 51 seconds behind eighth-placed Schlesser.
Zapletal managed to overhaul Vasilyev and reached the end of the special with an overall lead of 3.9 seconds, with Holowczyc in third and Gadasin in fourth place.
A shorter selective section is run on two occasions on Sunday morning and early afternoon and the podium finish is planned for 15.30hrs.
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