WRC Skydive Dubai Rally Team's Al-Ketbi forced to fight back from second stage setback in Poland
LOTOS 71st Rally Poland, June 26-29
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), round 7
For immediate release
Friday, June 27th 2014
SKYDIVE DUBAI RALLY TEAM’S AL-KETBI FORCED TO
FIGHTBACK FROM SECOND STAGE SETBACK IN POLAND
· Mikkelsen leads Polish event outright after four timed stages
· WRC 2 lead for Tanak as event heads across border into Lithuania
MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Skydive Dubai Rally Team driver Rashid Al-Ketbi and German co-driver Karina Hepperle will have to regroup and fight back through the field in the WRC 2 category of LOTOS 71st Rally Poland.
The seventh round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship crossed the Polish border into neighbouring Lithuania for the first time in WRC history on Friday morning, but Al-Ketbi – who had started well through the opening high-speed Milki stage on Thursday evening – then slid into a ditch near the start of the next special and was forced to miss the third stage in his Ford Fiesta R5 and plummeted to 66th overall heading into the second day.
“We had a good shakedown on the Warminski Rally last weekend and started well before this set-back,” said Al-Ketbi who was reseeded into 30th position for the start of day two and set a competitive time of 6min 27.6sec through the fourth Wieliczki stage.
“Thankfully it was very early in the rally and there was not a lot of damage in terms of time lost and I can quite comfortably make it back over the next stages.”
The high-speed nature of the special stages in north-eastern Poland had taken many by surprise, including established WRC stars Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen.
Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen moved into an outright lead of 0.4sec over his Volkswagen team mate and defending World Champion Sebastien Ogier through two timed specials but local hero Robert Kubica survived a roll and many of the top seeds struggled to find a fast pace on the challenging gravel. Ogier eventually started the second day with a lead of 2,8 seconds.
Mikkelsen hit back on the first of Friday’s stage to take a 0.4-second lead into the four specials in Lithuania. Ogier was second and Kris Meeke maintained third place.
In the WRC 2 category, a battle waged between Estonian Ott Tanak and flying Finn Jari Ketomaa, with the Estonian starting Friday’s seven timed stages with a lead of 3.9 seconds. Tanak duly extended that lead to 5.8 seconds through SS4.
The Skydive Dubai Rally Team crew had used the event’s traditional shakedown test on Thursday morning to get the set-up right for the Ford Fiesta R5. Estonian Ott Tanak had set the pace, but Al-Ketbi sliced four seconds off his first run with a second sprint of 2min 17.4sec.
The Skydive Dubai Rally Team is running in the 2014 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 promoting Dubai’s hosting of EXPO 2020.
Saturday’s and Sunday’s timetable features 14 timed special stages in the Polish provinces of Warmia and Mazury, east and north-east of Mikolajki, while the Mikolajki Arena will also host further super special stages for te many thousands of spectators who are attending Poland’s number one motor sporting event.
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, UK mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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