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CC Al-Attiyah, Coma and Sonik lead Sealine Rally after second desert stage

Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar – April 18-24, 2015
2015 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 3
2015 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, round 2

For immediate release
Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

AL-ATTIYAH, COMA AND SONIK LEAD SEALINE RALLY AFTER SECOND DESERT STAGE

· Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah punctures but extends car lead with second stage win
· Austrian Matthias Walkner claims second motorcycle stage win for KTM
· Poland’s Rafal Sonik climbs to ninth overall and leads quads; Abu Issa close second


SEALINE (Qatar): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Spain’s Marc Coma and Poland’s Rafal Sonik are the outright leaders of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, after a demanding 398.88km competitive section across the remote deserts to the west and south of Doha on Tuesday.

Car, motorcycle and quad stage victories on the day fell to Al-Attiyah, Austrian KTM rider Matthias Walkner and Sonik. Al-Attiyah, Coma and Sonik now head their respective categories by 13min 03sec, 2min 03sec and 58 seconds prior to the third stage on Wednesday.

The all-important starting order was a big factor in deciding the outcome of the motorcycle stage and Coma played the tactics masterfully to reach the finish of the special amongst the leading group and in third position to ensure he maintained his outright lead over Team HRC’s Joan Barreda Bort.

“It was a very long stage. I start sixth and try to catch everybody and did that at km160 and then I was opening,” said Coma. “The last part in the dunes we make a big group together. It’s just the second day, another 400km tomorrow and everything is possible. It was not easy to find the rhythm.”

Walkner was pleased with his stage performance and the win. “It was quite okay. (Jordi) Viladoms did a really good job and made the navigation work. Now we have to work hard again tomorrow.”

Second-placed Barreda Bort remains defiant. “You never know what to expect for the next day now with these new rules. Everything is changing and you cannot control the situation. Until now I am doing a good race opening and making good navigation. The problem is the rules. Now you can win the race in the bivouac after the stage has finished.”

The virtual quad stage lead swapped and changed between Sonik and Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa in the early kilometres, but Sonik found a good pace with fellow Polish rider Jakub Piatek and managed to snatch the stage win and the outright quad category lead. Paraguay’s Nelson Augusto Sanabria retired his Yamaha Raptor from third place with engine issues.

“He (Sonik) clipped on to a bike, a Polish rider, and I got behind, but then I punctured and then made a small navigation mistake and we rode back together,” said Abu Issa. “He gained the time on me, but I can do the same to him tomorrow and the strategy should work in my favour over the next three days as long as we have no problems.”

Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi was the early leader of the second stage in the car category, but Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel produced another masterful display of driving and navigating to record the stage win and extend their Mini All4 Racing’s outright lead, despite stopping to change a puncture.

“We had one flat tyre after CP4, we change a tyre. It’s not easy to open the roads all the way and I think we did a really good job,” said Al-Attiyah. “It’s the same again tomorrow. We must both remain focused.”

Al-Rajhi’s goal at the start of the event was second overall and the Saudi and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk performed admirably in their Overdrive Toyota Hilux to set the second quickest time and retain second place, although they also stopped on two occasions to change wheels.

“One slow puncture,” said Al-Rajhi. “We tried to carry on, but every 10km the pressure was going down, down and we had to change. Then, we get another one 180km from the end and have to stop and change. But second place was the target, so I am quite happy.”

Russian Vladimit Vasilyev consolidated third overall with the third quickest time in his Mini All4 Racing and Brazilian Reinaldo Varela reached the overnight halt in sixth, behind Erik van Loon and Joan Roma, after setting the fourth quickest time in his Overdrive Toyota.

SS2 – as it happened

Twenty-three bikes and four quads were given start times for day two. Portuguese rider Ruben Faria injured his wrist and headed straight for Sealine on day one, missing three security waypoints and incurring six hours of time penalties that dropped him from eighth to 27th.

New starting regulations meant that Coma opted to begin the stage from sixth position, with Barreda Bort and Sunderland in fifth and fourth on the road. Quintanilla was given the unenviable task of leading the way through what promised to be several hours of difficult navigation. Faria withdrew before the start and that meant that 22 bikes set out into the day’s special.

The wind had abated measurably and Gonçalves was the early pacesetter through PC1, although Coma was running strongly and managed to extend his virtual overall lead. The Spaniard had gained the stage advantage by PC2, after 136.67km, and began to pull away from a chasing Barreda Bort.

Al-Rajhi reached the first official checkpoint just two seconds in front of Al-Attiyah in the car category but, of the 31 cars that were given a start time, only 27 actually began the special following the withdrawal of the Dutch trio of Dennis Kuipers, Peter van Merksteijn Jnr. and Snr. after the accident involving Rene Kuipers’s HRX Ford on Monday. Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani also failed to start after his Ford Raptor sustained damage on day one.

Al-Attiyah regained the initiative from Al-Rajhi at PC2 and the duo began to pull clear of the chasing Minis of Vladimir Vasilyev and Erik van Loon. Al-Rajhi’s Toyota was now running perfectly after the lambda sensor had been changed overnight.

By PC3, after 189.52km, Coma’s lead had been pegged but he was still running 79 seconds in front of Walkner, with Barreda Bort in third, albeit 2min 16sec behind the Spaniard in the virtual overall rankings. Al-Attiyah continued to edge away from Al-Rajhi at PC3.

Walkner actually managed to gain the motorcycle stage lead at the fourth passage control and Al-Attiyah extended his lead over Al-Rajhi to 7min 08sec, as the route crossed from the west coast of Qatar and began to head north of the Inland Sea and up the coast to the finish near Sealine. Both Walkner and Al-Attiyah held on to take the stage wins.

“It was a really long stage today with difficult navigation,” said Honda’s Gonçalves, who slipped to eighth overall. “I open for around 120km and then the other guys catch me. At the end I was riding a little slower to try and change the strategy and to start behind tomorrow. Now we will see. I start behind all the fast riders and I will try to recover some time.”

Third-placed Sam Sunderland is still confident he can snatch the win: “Yesterday felt long and this was twice that distance. It was tricky, mostly stones and a bit more variety coming from the west to the dunes. “I was riding alone until km115 and feeling good and then made a little mistake and Marc caught me. Then we stayed in a group to the finish. Another day finished and I’m happy to be here.”

This year’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally is being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) with support from GAC and the Salam International Group.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), competitors face a 392.52km selective section that starts a mere 3.58km from the Sealine bivouac and finishes 1.21km from the overnight base.

2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – positions on SS2 (unofficial @ 14.20hrs):
Cars

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 3hr 44min 16sec
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottchalk (DEU) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 3hr 53min 40sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 3hr 54min 28sec
4. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 4hr 04min 49sec
5. Harry Hunt (GBR)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 06min 53sec
6. Erik van Loon (NED)/Wouter Rosegaar (NED) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 07min 04sec
7. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 08min 46sec
8. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 4hr 10min 46sec
9. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) H3 Evo 7 4hr 12min 42sec

Bikes
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 06min 09sec
2. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 08min 17sec
3. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 10min 16sec
4. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Honda CRF 450 Rally 4hr 12min 13sec
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 14min 15sec
6. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 16min 20sec
7. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 20min 19sec
8. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450 Rally 4hr 20min 39sec

Quads
11. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 4hr 45min 48sec
12. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Honda TRX 680 4hr 47min 45sec

2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS2 (unofficial @ 14.20hrs):
Cars

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 5hr 36min 15sec
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottchalk (DEU) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 5hr 49min 18sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 5hr 54min 36sec
4. Erik van Loon (NED)/Wouter Rosegaar (NED) Mini All4 Racing 6hr 08min 39sec
5. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Mini All4 Racing 6hr 11min 07sec
6. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 6hr 11min 38sec
7. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) H3 Evo 7 6hr 19min 35sec
8. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 6hr 19min 42sec
9. Harry Hunt (GBR)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 6hr 20min 07sec
10. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Arslan Sakhimov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo 6hr 48min 19sec
11. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Mini All4 Racing 6hr 50min 20sec

Bikes
1. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 6hr 20min 17sec
2. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Honda CRF 450 Rally 6hr 22min 20sec
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Replica 6hr 25min 13sec
4. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 6hr 26min 26sec
5. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Replica 6hr 29min 13sec
6. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica 6hr 31min 57sec
7. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) KTM 450 Rally Replica 6hr 32min 25sec
8. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450 Rally 6hr 34min 49sec

Quads
9. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 7hr 26min 28sec
12. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Honda TRX 680 7hr 27min 26sec
18. Kamil Wisniewski (POL) Yamaha Raptor 9hr 28min 42sec

Follow the rally live:
Positions

http://qmmf.cronobandeira.com
http://qmmf.cronobandeira.com/m - for mobile phones

SPECTATOR VANTAGE POINTS
Day 3 – Wednesday

1. SS3 – 110.01 km (1st bike 07.50hrs/1st car 09.05hrs) approx.
Doha/Salwa Rd
Leave Salwa Rd at exit 68 turning left (Al-Aamriya Road)
Follow the route for 35 km
The cars and bikes can be seen approaching and leaving a tarmac crossroads on a long straight running parallel to the overhead pylons.

2. SS3 – 344.22 km (1st bike 10.10hrs/1st car 11.25hrs) approx.
Leave Salwa Road at exit 24 and turn left.
After 11.5km, turn right at the roundabout entering Al-Kharrara Road.
Follow the route for 22km.
The cars and bikes cross a tarmac road after a long stony section.

Ends

Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar Mobile: + 974 55292739, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases). Facebook group: 2011-2012 MERC. Twitter: @LordPerkins

www.qmmf.com

 

 

 

Date issued: 21/04/2015

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