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Khalifa Al Mutawei holds early lead in Turkey

MOTORSPORT

2004 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup
Rallye d'Orient Cappadoce, round 5

For immediate release
Monday, August 2nd, 2004

DUBAI'S KHALIFA AL-MUTAWEI
HOLDS EARLY LEAD IN TURKEY

Victory Team star on track for World Cup lead
Factory Volkswagens in second and fourth places

ANKARA (Turkey): Dubai's Khalifa Al-Mutawei and French co-driver Alain Guehennec held the overall lead in the Rallye d'Orient Cappadoce, the fifth round of the 2004 Cross-Country Rallies World Cup, after the opening 7.8 kms timed Prologue stage in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Monday.

The Victory Team driver began Monday's second section at the front of the field, after setting a time 13 seconds quicker than his nearest rival in front of a massive crowd on a rough gravel stage held in an Ankara suburb. The first of the timed selective sections on Monday saw the entry head out of Ankara and into a 462 kms section to the town of Urgup in the Cappadoce region.

The competitive section totalled 286 kms over rutted piste, dry rocky terrain and passed a salt lake, where Al-Mutawei's BMW X5 faces fierce competition from the likes of former World Champion Jean-Louis Schlesser, Belgian former World Group N champion Grégoire de Mevius and the factory Volkswagens of former Dakar Rally winners Bruno Saby and Jutta Kleinschmidt.

Saby was the Dubai driver's nearest rival over the Prologue stage in Ankara at the wheel of his Touareg, with Nissan's Gregoire de Mevius and Kleinschmidt close behind in third and fourth positions. French racing driver Phillipe Gache held fifth position in the searing heat in his SMG Buggy.

Al-Mutawei currently lies second overall in the FIA World Cup Drivers' standings and is bidding to become the first Arab driver in history to claim a world rallying title. Forty-five points are available to the winner of this week's event and neither of his nearest rivals are taking part.

~Navigation will be one of the keys to success, said Al-Mutawei. ~I made a good start through the first stage and was pleased with my result, but this is a long rally. Organiser René Metge is well known for incorporating extremely demanding terrain and tricky navigation. As the region through which the rally runs is, in contrast to the desert, populated and also used for agricultural purposes, the junctions are often only a few hundred metres apart and can be easily mixed up. Good navigation will be just as important as preserving the car.

The total distance of the seven-day event, which is organised by René Metge Concept in conjunction with Tomsfed, is 3,105 kms. A broad spectrum of landscape is covered by special stages totalling a distance of 1,839 kilometres.

On Tuesday, the second selective section offers the first of three loops around Urgup, including a sinuous mountain passage at 2200 metres above sea level. Tuesday's stage consists of 344 kms of competition in a route of 573 kms.

Positions after SS1 (top 5):
1. Khalifa Al-Mutawei (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 5m 31s
2. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Perin (F) Volkswagen Touareg 5m 44s
3. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Jacky Dubois (B) Nissan Pick-Up 5m 46s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 5m 47s
5. Phillipe Gache (F)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (F) SMG Buggy 5m 49s

Ends

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Date issued: 02/08/2004

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