CC Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev aims to defend FIA World Cup lead in Qatar's Sealine Rally
Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar - April 19th-25th, 2014
2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 4
2014 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, round 2
For immediate release
Saturday, April 19th, 2014
RUSSIAN DRIVER VASILYEV AIMS TO DEFEND
FIA WORLD CUP LEAD IN QATAR’S SEALINE RALLY
· Team Honda rider Paolo Goncalves leads FIM series after round one
· Documentation and scrutineering takes place at Losail circuit
DOHA (Qatar): Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev will defend a 33-point lead in the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, when he tackles this week’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally across the deserts of Qatar.
The Mini All4 Racing driver was catapulted into contention for an inaugural title after taking the biggest win of his career at the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The 60 points he earned, coupled with 33 he amassed at the two Baja events in Russia and Italy, make him the early season favourite to win this year’s title.
He will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his Polish team-mate Krzysztof Holowczyc, the defending champion who also drives a Mini All4 Racing in the five-day event being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).
Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi is the Russian’s closest rival heading into the fourth round of the championship and the second of the long-distance Marathon events. Al-Rajhi switches back to a Toyota Hilux for this rally, having won both the Bajas in Russia and Italy at the wheel of the Overdrive Racing car.
Toyota colleagues Adam Malysz and Marek Dabrowski, both from Poland, are the closest challengers after three rounds, although a good result for either Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal or Brazilian Reinaldo Varela would put them in contention.
Firm favourite for outright victory in the car category is the 2012 winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, who returns to the X-raid team to drive a Mini All4 Racing for the first time since the Dakar Rally in January. The Qatari has a detailed knowledge of his local desert and a 60-point haul for first place would lift Al-Attiyah into contention for a second FIA World Cup title and may well change his plans for the remainder of the season.
“Sealine will definitely be an interesting event with several potential winners,” said X-raid Mini team manager Sven Quandt. “Nasser will be out to win at home and, at the same time, Vladimir and Yazeed are fighting for FIA World Cup points. Krzysztof and Martin (Kaczmarski) have also got what it takes to get to the very top. For me, it is important that we repeat the result we achieved in Abu Dhabi.”
Three quad and 15 motorcycle riders were on the list to attend pre-race administration checks at the Losail international circuit on Saturday.
Team Honda Racing arrives in Doha with a five-point lead in the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship Manufacturers’ series over the factory Red Bull KTM team. Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves stole victory form Marc Coma on the final stage of the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and he holds a three-point lead in the title race after round one.
“I was so happy to win in Abu Dhabi,” said Goncalves. “Honda has a very strong team now and we have a competitive bike, some really fast riders and we have the championship lead.”
“We know KTM has a strong team and they led in Abu Dhabi until the final day,” added Team HRC manager Wolfgang Fischer. “It was great to make that victory ours and break their long winning streak. Marc (Coma) had won there seven years in a row and KTM had won 12 years in a row and now Honda leads the championship. It makes this week in Qatar all the more exciting.”
Tomorrow (Sunday), the leading car crews attend administration and scrutineering checks at Losail, before the QMMF hosts a series of three pre-event press conferences for officials, sponsors, riders and drivers from 16.00hrs. The competitive action gets underway on Monday morning (April 21st).
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – positions after round 3:
1. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 93 pts
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 60 pts
3. Adam Malysz (POL) 42 pts
4. Marek Dabrowski (POL) 38 pts
5. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE) 32 pts
6. Boris Gadasin (RUS) 27 pts
7. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) 26 pts
8. Yayha Al-Helai (ARE) 24 pts, etc
FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – positions after round 1:
1. Paolo Goncalves (PRT) 20 pts
2. Marc Coma (ESP) 17pts
3. Joan Barreda-Bort (ESP) 15 pts
4. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) 13 pts
5. Miran Stanovnik (SLO) 11 pts
6. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) 10 pts
7. Helder Rodrigues (PRT) 9 pts
8. Oliver Lloyd (GBR) 8 pts, etc
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2014 Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar Mobile: + 974 55292739, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases), Twitter: @LordPerkins