Nasser Al Attiyah takes fourth in PWRC in 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
Monday, July 19th, 2004
QATAR'S NASSER AL-ATTIYAH FINISHES
FOURTH IN PWRC IN RALLY OF ARGENTINA
Al-Attiyah delighted with maiden South American finish; Sainz takes 26th WRC win
VILLA CARLOS PAZ (Argentina): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson finished 15th overall and an excellent fourth in the PWRC Championship after 26 timed special stages of the Rally of Argentina, round four of the Production World Rally Championship, in Cordoba on Sunday.
Al-Attiyah had 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.
The final section near Mina Clavero has proved to be a sting in the tail on numerous Argentina rallies, but the Qatari weather the storm to earn his best WRC result of the season so far. Italy's Gianluigi Galli lost his place in the rally when a suspension bolt failed mid-way through the final leg. The result gave Al-Attiyah an invaluable five PWRC points and lifted him from equal 11th to seventh in the PWRC Championship.
~It was a great rally and a fantastic experience for me,~ admitted Al-Attiyah. ~It has given me great confidence. You never know how your driving has improved or how you have progressed until you can compete against the best in the world and I have shown this week that I can match the very best. I managed to score valuable points for the PWRC Championship, but, more importantly, I feel that I have improved as a driver and I hope to carry this forward for rallies later in the season.~
Argentina's Gabriel Pozzo won the Group N category, with Spaniard Daniel Sola maximum points in PWRC to extend his overall lead in the series. Finland's Jani Paasonen completed the top three and was second in PWRC, with Argentina's Sebastien Beltran, Austria's Manfred Stohl and Peruvian Ramon Ferreyros finishing ahead of the defending FIA Middle East rally champion. Argentinean driver Marcos Ligato crashed out in the 14th stage.
~This was a really encouraging result for Nasser and the Qatar Rally Team,~ said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, which is currently finalising plans for the inaugural Qatar Moto GP in October. ~It puts the team in a much stronger position in the PWRC and emphasises Nasser's continued rise through the ranks of world rallying.~
Spaniard Carlos Sainz won a record-breaking 26th WRC rally by clinching overall victory in Argentina and his first since the 2003 Rally of Turkey, as he and co-driver Marc Marti headed a Citroen Xsara one-two at the traditional finish inside the Cordoba football stadium. Team mate Sebastien Loeb finished second and extended his lead in the FIA World Drivers' Championship.
Ford's young Belgian Francois Duval finished third overall in a Focus RS and Finland's Mikko Hirvonen was fourth overall in a Subaru Impreza. Early leader and defending World Champion Petter Solberg retired on the opening leg and former champion Marcus Gronholm crashed out of the lead in the 19th stage.
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 Césare, 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.
Al-Attiyah, the Middle East's leading rally driver, now heads away from the sport of rallying for several weeks to concentrate on preparations for the forthcoming Athens Olympics, where he will represent the State of Qatar in the skeet shooting competition. He finished 10th overall in the Dakar Rally back in January and will be hoping to repeat his Asian Games gold medal by taking first place for Qatar in August's shooting tournament.
2004 Rally of Argentina - (unofficial final positions after SS26):
1. Carlos Sainz (E)/Marc Marti (E) Citroen Xsara 4h 23m 11.1s
2. Sebastian Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (MC) Citroen Xsara 4h 24m 43.5s
3. Francois Duval (B)/Stephane Prévot (B) Ford Focus RS 4h 27m 34.5s
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Focus RS 4h 31m 38.7s
5. Harri Rovanperä (SF)/Risto Pietilainen (SF) Peugeot 307 4h 33m 10.9s
15. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Subaru Impreza GpN 4h 57m 25.8s
2004 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship (unofficial - after 4 of 7 rounds):
1. Daniel Sola (E) 26 pts
2. Jani Paasonen (FIN) 23 pts
3. Manfred Stohl (A) 16 pts
4. Toshi Arai (J) 15 pts
5. Alister McRae (GB) 14 pts
6. Niall McShea (GB) 10 pts
7. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 9 pts
8. Marcos Ligato (RA) 8 pts
9. Karamjit Singh (MAL) 6 pts, etc
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