CC Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei loses lead in Pharoahs Rally
2012 FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES
Pharoahs International Cross-Country Rally, Egypt, October 1-6, 2012
For immediate release
Thursday, October 4th 2012
UAE’S KHALIFA AL-MUTAIWEI LOSES OUTRIGHT LEAD
IN PHAROAHS INTERNATIONAL CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY
· Fazza Rally Team star falls behind arch rival Jean-Louis Schlesser
ABU MINGAR (Egypt): Dubai’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz lost the outright lead of the Pharoahs International Cross-Country Rally after the fourth 530km selective section, made up of two stages in a loop around the Abu Mingar bivouac, on Thursday.
Al-Mutaiwei looked to be on course to extend his advantage in the overall standings at the first checkpoint on the day’s special stages, but he lost time stuck in a section of treacherous sand dunes soon afterwards and dropped considerable time to arch rival Jean-Louis Schlesser, who moved into the outright lead for the first time.
“It is still to early to predict or take any conclusions from the rally,” said Al-Mutaiwei, who drives a Mini All4 Racing prepared by the Dakar-winning X-raid team from Germany.
“I am taking things day-by-day and step-by-step. There are still two more long and difficult stages to come. Andi (Schulz) and I are concentrating just to keep away from obstacles and we are also keeping our eyes open as much as we can because, in some places, we are driving on sight rather than on the road book.”
Al-Mutaiwei confirmed his second stage win of the rally on Wednesday’s punishing special from Tibniya to Abu Mingar and duly extended his advantage over Jean-Louis Schlesser to 14min 56sec heading into Thursday’s loop around the bivouac.
The rally had already become a two-horse race with Al-Mutaiwei needing to stay ahead of Schlesser to maintain an advantage in the FIA World Cup points’ standings. Frenchman Regis Delahaye held third position in his Buggy, albeit 42min 50sec adrift of the Emirati, and Russian Boris Gadasin and Japan’s Jun Mitsuhashi rounded off the top five heading into the fourth day, which was made up of two special stages.
Al-Mutaiwei was the first driver into the special in his Mini All4 Racing and he reached PC1, 25 seconds in front of Schlesser. But the Frenchman, who had lost time in a sand hole the previous day, took advantage of Al-Mutaiwei’s delays in the sand dunes before PC2 to snatch the stage lead.
Schlesser reached PC2 over 20 minutes in front of Khalifa and the Fazza Rally Team driver eventually completed the first special in 2hrs 22min 59sec, which was 28min 35sec behind Schlesser, who recorded a time of 1hr 54min 24sec to snatch the overall rally lead by an unofficial 13min 39sec heading into the second stage.
The pair were closely matched through the first of the timed checkpoints, but Al-Mutaiwei began a charge between PCs three and four and had reduced Schlesser’s virtual overall lead by around four minutes heading towards PC5, where Al-Mutaiwei had gained back just under minute of the time he had lost in the dunes.
Schlesser managed to finish the stage, which was better suited to Schlesser’s Buggy, in an unofficial 2hr 39min 55sec and Al-Mutaiwei reached the flying finish in 2hr 36min 19sec, but heads into the penultimate day of the event with it all to do if he is to catch Schlesser and maintain the lead in the FIA World Cup.
That penultimate special forges its way across the desert towards Tibniya on Friday and the final stage on Saturday, October 6th heads from Tibniya to Cairo, where the podium finish will take place in the afternoon.
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