Al Attiyah well placed for top finish in Rally of Argentina
2004 Rally of Argentina
FIA World Rally Championship, round 8 of 16
FIA Production World Rally Championship (PWRC), round 4 of 7
For immediate release
Sunday, July 18th, 2004
QATAR'S NASSER AL-ATTIYAH WELL PLACED
FOR TOP FINISH IN RALLY OF ARGENTINA
Al-Attiyah closes in on Group N competition; Gronholm crashes out as Sainz leads
VILLA CARLOS PAZ (Argentina): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson were well-placed in a points-scoring position in the PWRC Championship after 21 special stages of the Rally of Argentina on Sunday.
After starting the second leg in ninth position in the showroom category at the wheel of his Autotek Motorsport-run Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Al-Attiyah picked up the pace over the second leg through the twisty gravel stages in the Santa Marie de Calamachita and Cosquin regions and held 16th overall and eighth in the Group N section after the 21st stage at the start of Sunday's final loop.
~It has been a long and hard rally so far,~ admitted Al-Attiyah. ~I have found a pace which keeps me in touch with the leaders without unduly risking the car or my position. This is a specialist event and one where the Argentinean drivers do very well and it is important to have been here before to build up a sound knowledge of the region and the type of roads we have been driving. It has been great experience for me so far.~
Argentina's Gabriel Pozzo continued to lead the Group N category in seventh place in the overall classification, although he was being pressured by Spain's ninth-placed Daniel Sola, Italy's Gianluigi Galli in 10th overall and Jani Paasonen.
Finland's Marcus Gronholm lost his slender overall rally lead and wrecked his chances of winning the 2004 World Drivers' title when he crashed out of the event on the 19th stage and handed the advantage to a pair of Citroen Xsaras in the hands of Spanish former World Champion Carlos Sainz and this year's runaway championship leader Sebastien Loeb. Ford's Francois Duval holds third position heading into the closing stages and Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen is fourth.
Sunday's shorter final day ended amid the rocky speed tests high in the Traslasierra mountains and brought the return of El Condor and Giulio CÚsare, two of the most famous and toughest stages in the entire championship, which peak at almost 2200 metres.
It consisted of a mere five special stages, totalling 84.96 kms. The action began with a run through a 14.81 kms stage between Villa Carlos Paz and Cabalango and visited the area around Cosquin, Villa Allende and the eerie lunar-type moonscapes near Mina Clavero and Giulio Cesare.
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