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Al Mutawei takes FIA World Cup lead in Turkey

MOTORSPORT

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

For immediate release
Sunday, August 8th, 2004

DUBAI'S KHALIFA AL-MUTAWEI
TAKES WORLD CUP LEAD IN TURKEY

Victory Team star takes fourth place;
Belgian De Mevius wins in Turkey

ANTALYA (Turkey): Dubai's Khalifa Al-Mutawei is the new leader of the 2004 FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup Drivers' Championship, after he and French co-driver Alain Guehennec finished fourth overall in the Rallye d'Orient Cappadoce, the fifth round of the series, in Antalya, Turkey, on Saturday.

The Victory Team driver began the final 110 kms competitive section in fourth position on the road and stayed away from trouble to pick up an invaluable 15 championship points, as he bids to become the first Arab rally driver in history to win a coveted FIA world title. Al-Mutawei now heads to the penultimate round of the championship in Dubai at the start of October with an 11-point lead over his nearest rival in the series.

~This rally turned out perfectly for me,~ said Al-Mutawei. ~I managed to climb back up the field after my problems on the first stage and stayed in touch with the leaders. It was a shame that Bruno (Saby) had problems on Friday and lost the lead, but that is rallying and his accident gave me an extra three championship points. The final two rounds of the season will be very tight and exciting. It will not be easy to win the world title, but I am in a better position now than I was at the beginning of the week.~

The BMW X5 Rallye-Raid driver now has 101 championship points, compared to the 90 amassed by Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel for winning the Tunisia and Morocco rallies earlier in the season. Peterhansel looks likely to tackle the UAE Desert Challenge in the Middle East in a factory Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution and that means that Al-Mutawei would face the long trek to South America for the Por Las Pampas Rally in Argentina in November before he could be crowned champion.

Portugal's defending World Champion Carlos Sousa lies third in the series, a mere three points ahead of his bitter rival Jean-Louis Schlesser.

The Belgian driver Gregoire de Mevius gave Nissan Team Dessoude its first Cross-Country win since the Rally of Egypt last season, by steering his Pick-Up to the finish in the coastal town of Antalya, 1m 25s ahead of second-placed Jean-Louis Schlesser. Schlesser leap-frogged into contention for the world title and is within striking distance of Al-Mutawei at the top of the points' tables.

Germany's Jutta Kleinschmidt won the stage between Urgup and Bozkir on Friday and completed the podium positions in the revised Volkswagen Touareg. The 2001 winner of the Dakar Rally now heads to Dubai in October to continue preparations for the 2005 Dakar Rally, which starts in Barcelona on New Year's Day. Schlesser won today's 110 kms section, with Al-Mutawei in sixth position, although the Dubai driver clinched the fastest time on the final spectator stage in Antalya to cap a successful week.

French racing driver Phillipe Gache finished behind Al-Mutawei in fifth position in his SMG Buggy and
Frenchman Dominique Housieaux was sixth overall in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Pajero. Grenoble driver Bruno Saby led for four stages in the second factory Volkswagen before suspension problems cost him a potential win on the penultimate stage between Urgup and Bozkir.

Final Positions (top 6):
1. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Jacky Dubois (B) Nissan Pick-Up 23h 47m 24s
2. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Buggy 23h 48m 49s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 24h 00m 27s
4. Khalifa Al-Mutawei (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 24h 44m 25s
5. Phillipe Gache (F)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (F) SMG Buggy 24h 59m 26s
6. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero 25h 05m 26s

2004 FIA Cross-Country World Cup Drivers' Championship - after round 5 (unofficial):
1. Khalifa Al-Motaiwi (UAE) 101 pts
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F) 90 pts
3. Carlos Sousa (P) 81 pts
4. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F) 78 pts
5. Gregoire de Mevius (B) 45 pts
6. Isabelle Patissier (F) 36 pts
7. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D) 36 pts
8. Dominique Housieaux (F) 30 pts
9. José-Luis Monterde (E) 29 pts, etc

Ends

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Date issued: 08/08/2004

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