CC Qatar's Al-Attiyah and Abu Issa retain leads and Spain's Coma moves in front again in Qatar
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
Thursday, April 24th, 2014
QATAR’S AL-ATTIYAH AND ABU ISSA RETAIN LEADS
AND SPAIN’S COMA TOPS THE BIKES IN SEALINE RALLY
· Stage four wins for Al-Attiyah, Goncalves and Sonik
· Sunderland falls and sustains wrist injury; navigation takes its toll
· Final 362.97km selective section awaits in Qatar desert on Friday
SEALINE (Qatar): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Mohammed Abu Issa retained their leads in the car and quad categories and Marc Coma regained a slender motorcycle advantage after a tricky navigational 404.18km fourth selective section of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally on Thursday.
Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel turned an overnight lead of 39min 38sec into an advantage of 1hr 05min 11sec over Polish Toyota Hilux driver Adam Malysz with one stage remaining in the fourth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
“I am quite happy,” said Al-Attiyah. “I had no reason to push today. It is very easy to make a mistake here. Matthieu has been excellent all week. No problems with the car and we just have to do the same again one more time. This rally is now at a high level. The navigation is probably the most difficult of them all.”
Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc lost his chance of taking a top finish with overheating issues on Wednesday, but the Mini driver stormed back with a useful performance on day four. He was leading the stage all the way to PC5 before losing time with navigational issues. “This rally is very different,” said the Pole. “This is a co-driver’s rally. This is not for the driver. You push like hell for hours and then one mistake and it’s back to square one again.”
Toyota’s Marek Dabrowski claimed second position on the day and Overdrive team-mate Malysz took advantage of Vladimir Vasilyev’s lengthy navigational delays to snatch second overall by just 5min 20sec.
The dogfight between Honda and KTM continued into day four; overnight leader Joan Barreda, riding a Honda CRF 450, ceded the overall advantage to KTM’s Marc Coma for the second time in four days, although the stage win fell to Honda’s Paolo Goncalves.
The two leading Spaniards will now go head-to-head on Friday, with Barreda having the sizeable advantage of following the four-time Dakar winner and defending Sealine champion through the stage. Coma has a lead of 41 seconds and starts two minutes ahead of his rival.
“I know it’s going to be difficult now,” said Coma. “It was a very hard day with a very high level of navigation. I lost my rhythm a little towards the end and I now have to give it a go tomorrow. That’s all I can do.”
Goncalves was delighted with the stage win. “I have been recovering time since the first day and it was good to get back a lot of that time against my rivals today. It was a difficult and demanding stage. Tomorrow is the last day and I will need to concentrate and not make a navigation mistake. I have a chance still. You never know.”
Barreda admits that he needs to remain focused. “The strategy is working well. Now I need to keep my concentration and not make any navigational error. I will need to push and catch Marc and stay with him. That is the plan.”
After his navigational woes on Wednesday, Poland’s Rafal Sonik caught Abu Issa, the pair rode together and the Pole managed to win the quad stage by 5min 07sec. Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa takes a comfortable unofficial advantage of 29min 14sec into the final selective section on Friday and, barring a late disaster, should snatch the Sealine title from the defending champion.
SS4 – as it happened
There was no respite in the difficulty of the navigation. The fourth 404.18km selective section headed northwest from Sealine towards the Salwa Road and carried on towards Al Owaina before turning west and then south towards Al Kharsaah and then back in a south-easterly direction to Sealine.
There were five passage controls at 46.89km, 120.73km, 175.41km, 228.32km and 242.82km with a finish over a sharp dune.
One hundred hours of time penalties had pushed Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Krzysztof Holowczyc down to 15th and 16th overall of the remaining 19 cars in the event. Neither driver held any chance of scoring FIA World Cup points and Overdrive Toyota team manager Jean-Marc Fortin decided that Al-Rajhi should retire from the event and return to Saudi Arabia in advance of next week’s Jordan Rally. Holowczyc decided to continue for testing purposes and experience. Denis Berezovskiy and Emirati Ali Al-Shawi also retired.
Thirteen motorcycles and two quads resumed the competition. Coma was running 1min 18sec quicker than Barreda by PC1, although Helder Rodrigues was the fastest rider on the course. Sunderland fell after 45km and sustained a suspected wrist fracture to cap a disappointing event for the Dubai-based Briton.
Coma continued to attack. He knew that to overturn the Honda strategy he would need to eke out a good lead on today’s stage and he passed the top Honda rider and led by 2min 08sec at PC2. Goncalves was now the stage pacesetter.
Holowczyc was the quickest of the car entrants to PC1 and PC2 from a starting position of 16 and Abu Issa was managing to hold off the Sonik challenge in the quads and had a virtual stage lead of 58 seconds at PC2.
Coma, Barreda and Rodrigues arrived together at PC3 and PC4, and Rodrigues had gained the virtual stage lead at the refuelling point. Barreda was playing the strategy perfectly and shadowing Coma’s every move. Sonik edged into a small lead over Abu Issa in the quads and Vasilyev made a navigational error before PC3 and dropped over 25 minutes to third-placed Adam Malysz.
The leading riders had formed groups of three and two at PC5. Rodrigues retained the lead and Coma held a 2min 08sec lead over Barreda heading into the final section across the breadth of Qatar. Ruben Faria had already called it a day and returned to Sealine after PC3.
Goncalves held on to take the stage win and Coma moved 41 seconds in front of Barreda heading into the final day. Al-Attiyah also cruised to the stage finish and extended his massive lead in the car category, while Malysz shadowed Dabrowski through the final kilometres and the Toyota duo crossed the finish line together.
Tomorrow (Friday), competitors will tackle the fifth and final 362.97km selective section in a loop around the south of Qatar before returning to the Sealine bivouac for the official podium finish and the traditional post-event press conference.
2014 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – positions on SS4 (404.18km) – unofficial @ 13.40hrs:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 14min 39sec
2. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Toyota Hilux 4hr 24min 52sec
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Andreas Schulz (GER) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 26min 32sec
4. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux 4hr 26min 53sec
5. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 45min 32sec
6. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) Hummer H3 4hr 45min 34sec
7. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Toyota Hilux 4hr 47min 30sec
8. Martin Kaczmarski (POL)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 58min 51sec
1. Paolo Goncalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450 4hr 48min 07sec
2. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 4hr 50min 05sec
3. Helder Rodrigues (PRT) Honda CRF 450 4hr 52min 05sec
4. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 4hr 54min 15sec
5. Joan Barreda (ESP) Honda CRF 450 4hr 56min 15sec
6. Jakub Piatek (POL) KTM 450 5hr 59min 20sec
10. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 6hr 09min 50sec
11. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Honda TRX 680 6hr 14min 57sec
2014 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – overall positions after SS4 – unofficial @ 13.40hrs:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 40min 53sec
2. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux 14hr 46min 04sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 14hr 51min 24sec
4. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Toyota Hilux 14hr 55min 29sec
5. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Toyota Hilux 15hr 39min 54sec
6. Martin Kaczmarski (POL)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) Mini All4 Racing 15hr 46min 33sec
7. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) Hummer H3 16hr 29min 45sec
8. Andrey Cherednikov (KAZ)/Dmitro Tsyro (KAZ) Toyota 17hr 04min 33sec
1. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 16hr 06min 11sec
2. Joan Barreda (ESP) Honda CRF 450 16hr 06min 52sec
3. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 16hr 08min 03sec
4. Paolo Goncalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450 16hr 08min 20sec
5. Helder Rodrigues (PRT) Honda CRF 450 16hr 12min 37sec
6. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 18hr 53min 18sec
7. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Honda TRX 680 19hr 51min 00sec
8. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 20hr 20min 14sec
Note: Results exclude additional time penalties that may be added later by race officials.
SPECTATOR VANTAGE POINT
SS5 – 150.18 km (1st bike 08.15hrs/1st car 09.15hrs)
Leave Salwa Rd at exit 68 turning left. Follow the route for 7.5 km. The rally track crosses the tarmac road after a passage control.
After a passage control the competitors cross the asphalt road and pass a bridge; 200 m further they leave the main track on an interesting crest.
Follow the action:
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