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CC Qatar's Al-Attiyah, Spain's Coma and Poland's Sonik win third Sealine rallies

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
Friday, April 24th, 2015

QATAR’S AL-ATTIYAH, SPAIN’S COMA AND POLAND’S
SONIK CONFIRM THIRD SEALINE RALLY VICTORIES

· Vasilyev finishes second in the cars; Barreda Bort finishes bike runner-up
· Final stage wins for Reinaldo Varela, Joan Barreda Bort and Mohammed Abu Issa
· T2 triumph for Russian Maxim Kirpliev; French Polaris driver Eric Mozas wins T3

SEALINE (Qatar): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Spain’s Marc Coma and Poland’s Rafal Sonik each confirmed their third victories at the Sealine Cross-Country Rally in four years in the car, motorcycle and quad categories on Friday.

Victories on the final stage of the punishing five-day event fell to Reinaldo Varela, Joan Barreda Bort and Mohammed Abu Issa, but there was no stopping the 2015 Dakar Rally winners, Al-Attiyah, Coma and Sonik, and they each managed their pace to perfection over the closing 381.89km of competition to record victories by the respective margins of 27min 53sec, 4min 40sec and 8hr 06min 06sec.

Al-Attiyah won three of the five stages in the car category and, aside from a plethora of flat tyres, the Qatari continued his remarkable run of victories this season. His exclusion from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge aside, the Red Bull maestro has now won five of his last six rallies on three continents in four different championships with French co-driver Matthieu Baumel.

“It was a tough race, it was really long, not like last year,” said Al-Attiyah. “We were leading from the beginning and it was a great week for us. We appealed against the decision in Abu Dhabi and we wait for the outcome of that, but we will go to all the races in case we do not get the 60 points back for that.”

Defending FIA World Cup champion, Vladimir Vasilyev, continues to top the FIA World Cup points’ standings after finishing second overall in his X-raid Mini All4 Racing. Brazilian Reinaldo Varela finished third in an Overdrive Toyota Hilux, despite a total of nine punctures during the week, Czech privateer Miroslav Zapletal was fourth and Poland’s Marek Dabrowski finished fifth in the second of the Belgian-built Toyotas.

Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi is one of the most improved drivers in the world this year but he lost his chance of leaping into second position in the championship standings after he and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk suffered a broken drive shaft with their Toyota Hilux over the final kilometres and got stuck in the sand dunes.

Coma, riding for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team, won only one of the five stages, but the master tactician coped with the intense heat and remained focused for the complex navigation to record his second win in four weeks and extend his advantage in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship after two rounds.

“I am happy,” said Coma. “It was a tough race, one of the toughest we do in the World Championship. We had a high rhythm all rally and all the guys pushed very hard. It was a nice fight. We have started the season well, with the Dakar and Abu Dhabi and now Qatar. Here, especially, it is a victory for the KTM team. We have the same goal, but one KTM is winning and all the riders are working for that.”

Team HRC’s Joan Barreda Bort and Paulo Gonçalves started the final stage separated by just 32 seconds and second overall swapped during the course of the last special. But Barreda Bort hit back over the closing kilometres to seal the stage win and ensure that he finished 4min 40sec behind Coma. Gonçalves was third overall, Spain’s Jordi Viladoms was fourth by one second and his KTM team-mates Pablo Quintanilla, Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner finished fifth, sixth and seventh overall.

Barreda Bort said: “I feel really good about my job and my navigation. But I finish second with a really good race. Something is wrong, no? I think the rules are complete stupid, because you can decide the race here in the bivouac and this is not nice. But, after the mechanical problem on the Dakar and Abu Dhabi, it’s a good feeling to be back.”

The quad contest was settled on Thursday afternoon when Mohammed Abu Issa struck a rock, his Honda TRX shed a wheel and he incurred a fistful of time penalties. This put daylight between him and the defending Dakar champion Rafal Sonik and the Pole stayed out of trouble over the closing kilometres to reach the finish well clear of stage winner Abu Issa to claim the top spot in the FIM quad series points’ standings after round two. Poland’s gritty Kamil Wisniewski was third on a Yamaha Raptor. Sonik even found time to stop and lend fuel to another rider.

Eighth-placed Russian Maxim Kirpliev claimed victory in the T2 category at the wheel of his Toyota LC200. T3 glory fell to the 10th-placed Frenchman Eric Mozas in a Polaris RZR 1000.

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

SS5 – as it happened

Twenty-five cars, 20 bikes and four quads were given start times for the final 381.89km stage. The sun was yet to break through low cloud cover when the first riders left Sealine for the short 4.66km liaison to the start. Pablo Quintanilla was given stage-opening duty, Coma slotted into fourth and Barreda Bort was sixth.

The leading sextet of riders was already bunched up at PC1, after 154.12km, and Barreda Bort had carved a 3min 43sec hole in Coma’s lead, but there was little chance of pushing any harder with the leader in view. It looked like it was developing into a group ride to the finish unless Barreda Bort could break free. Mohammed Al-Balooshi stopped for a time with minor technical issues, but passed PC1 in seventh position.

Al-Attiyah held a slender lead in the cars over Varela at PC1, but the leading quartet were running close together and appeared to have settled for their positions in the overall standings. Joan Roma started the day in 20th overall and ninth on the road and was fourth quickest at PC1.

Varela was the virtual stage leader in the cars at PC2 and Gonçalves overhauled Barreda Bort to head the motorcycle section at PC3 (259.69km). It also meant the Portuguese had taken a virtual second in the overall standings from his Honda colleague.

Sonik was cruising to the quad victory, safe in the knowledge that Abu Issa had incurred seven and a half hours of time penalties late on Thursday night for missing several waypoints at the end of the fourth stage.

Barreda Bort managed to regain the stage lead and reached the finish with his second stage win of the event to confirm the runner-up position behind Coma. “Thirty kilometres before the refuelling, I broke my rear brake and the pads were destroyed. I decided to repair at the refuelling,” said Barreda Bort. But the Team HRC man still able to finish second.

Varela managed to stay ahead of Al-Attiyah through the third and fourth passage controls and recorded the stage win, but Al-Attiyah had passed Al-Rajhi and commented later that the had had at least two flat tyres before the broken drive shaft sidelined the Saudi within sight of the end.

2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – positions on SS5 (unofficial @ 13.50hrs):
Cars

1. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 3hr 49min 56sec
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 3hr 52min 05sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 3hr 54min 09sec
4. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 06min 56sec
5. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) H3 Evo 7 4hr 08min 55sec

Bikes
1. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Honda CRF 450 Rally 4hr 07min 51sec
2. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450 Rally 4hr 09min 12sec
3. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 11min 08sec
4. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 12min 52sec
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 15min 15sec
6. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) KTM 450 Rally Replica 4hr 16min 53sec

Quads
12. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Honda TRX 680 5hr 42min 51sec
14. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 6hr 02min 08sec

2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS5 (unofficial @ 13.50hrs):
Cars

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 17hr 40min 05sec
2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 18hr 07min 58sec
3. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 18hr 42min 00sec
4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) H3 Evo 7 19hr 39min 19sec
5. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 19hr 58min 50sec
6. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Mini All4 Racing 20hr 13min 35sec
7. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Arslan Sakhimov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo 20hr 49min 13sec
8. Maxim Kirpliev (RUS)/Andrei Rudnutski (BLR) Toyota LC200 -T2 26hr 10min 40sec
9. Kamat Shagirov (KAZ)/Alexandr Moroz (KAZ) Toyota Hilux 26hr 12min 08sec
10. Eric Mozas (FRA)/Sébastien Delauney (FRA) Polaris RZR 1000 – T3 26hr 19min 39sec

Bikes
1. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 19hr 56min 48sec
2. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Honda CRF 450 Rally 20hr 01min 28sec
3. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450 Rally 20hr 03min 21sec
4. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 20hr 14min 47sec
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) KTM 450 Rally Replica 20hr 14min 48sec
6. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Replica 20hr 17min 58sec
7. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Replica 21hr 37min 06sec
8. Armand Monleón (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 22hr 39min 21sec
9. Jakub Piatek (POL) KTM 450 Rally Replica 23hr 51min 48sec
10. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica 23hr 57min 09sec

Quads
11. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 24hr 40min 40sec
14. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Honda TRX 680 32hr 46min 46sec
15. Kamil Wisniewski (POL) Yamaha Raptor 34hr 13min 56sec

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

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Date issued: 24/04/2015

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