WRC Transmission trouble sidelines Rashid Al-Ketbi in Spain
Rallye RACC Rally de Espana, October 24-27
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), round 12
For immediate release
Saturday, October 26th, 2013
SKYDIVE DUBAI RALLY TEAM’S AL-KETBI FORCED
OUT OF SPANISH EVENT AFTER THREE TIMED STAGES
· Poland’s Robert Kubica on course to clinch WRC2 title in Spain
· Sébastien Ogier holds slender outright lead for Volkswagen Motorsport
SALOU (Spain): Skydive Dubai Rally Team driver Rashid Al-Ketbi and German co-driver Karina Hepperle were forced out of Rally RACC-Rally de Espana, round 12 of the FIA World Rally Championship, with transmission problems after three timed asphalt special stages.
The event started from the centre of Barcelona on Friday afternoon and teams tackled three demanding specials in darkness to get the three-day event underway.
Poland’s Robert Kubica is aiming to clinch the WRC2 Championship in Spain, before switching to a works Citroen for the final round in Wales, and the former F1 driver held the lead after four timed tests from Welshman Elfyn Evans.
But Al-Ketbi dropped over six minutes to the WRC2 leader through the opening 21.26km of the Querol stage with drive shaft problems and slipped to the foot of the general classification. Ongoing technical trouble hampered progress through the El Montmell stage and the Emirati continued to drop time through the third timed test before withdrawing from the event.
“We came here to claim at least a top five finish in WRC2 and losing all that time on the first stage was a bitter disappointment,” said Al-Ketbi. “We tried to carry on as best we could but the objective was a top finish and it was not going to happen after the mechanical issues so we retired.”
The Skydive Dubai Rally Team is running in the 2013 WRC under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, and is backing the UAE’s bid for EXPO 2020.
Frenchman Sébastien Ogier has already confirmed the Drivers’ Championship and his team, Volkswagen Motorsport, remain on course for the Manufacturers’ Championship at their first attempt.
After three stages, Ogier held an 8.8-second overnight lead over Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala, but the Finn reduced that lead to 5.6 seconds in stage four. Spaniard Dani Sordo was third and Belgian Thierry Neuville held fourth.
Saturday action continued to a conclusion with a super special stage along the beach promenade in the tourist resort of Salou. Cars were then converted from tarmac to gravel specification at the overnight halt and the event concludes with three gravel stages in western Catalonia on Sunday before the finish podium back in Salou.
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