CC Nissan Middle East's Khneisser leads T2 after day one in Morocco
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 9
Oilibya Rally of Morocco 2015, October 5-9
For immediate release
Monday, October 5th, 2015
NISSAN MIDDLE EAST-BACKED KHNEISSER STORMS
INTO T2 LEAD AFTER DAY ONE IN MOROCCO
· Denis Berezovskiy closes in on T2 world title with third fastest time
ZAGORA (Morocco): Abu Dhabi-based Lebanese driver Emil Khneisser and Kazazh colleague Denis Berezovskiy were in splendid form on the opening selective section of the demanding OiLibya Rally of Morocco on Monday.
With support from Nissan Middle East, Khneisser guided his Nissan Y62s to first position in the T2 category on the 330km loop stage through a sea of sand dunes and remote desert terrain around Zagora in southern Morocco.
Khneisser and Russian navigator Alexey Kuzmich carded a time of 4hr 28min 48sec for the rigorous stage, which called upon all the performance, handling, strength and reliability of their Nissan Patrol in searing temperatures. That put them nearly seven minutes in front of the Japanese driver Akira Muira.
“It was very interesting today, although we had two tyre punctures,” said Khneisser. “At first, I passed Denis and then I had a puncture. Hamed (Al-Thani) passed me and I decided to push maximum. I passed Sheikh Hamed again and then, maybe, I relaxed. Another car passed me and I decided to follow him for around 50km and then I decided to attack and passed him. I had a puncture and he passed me again and then I passed him again! It was a great adventure and I enjoyed it a lot.
“Tomorrow is another day. Today counts for nothing. This is a long race. I still have to be pushing tomorrow. I will try and be a little less aggressive.”
A podium finish for Berezovskiy and his fellow Kazakh co-driver Ignat Falkov will be sufficient for the Astana Motorsport duo to clinch the T2 World Championship in the second of the Nissan Middle East-backed cars. Berezovskiy reached the finish of the Zagora loop stage in a time of 4hr 59min 25sec and holds third position on the leader board and remains firmly on course to give the Japanese manufacturer the prestigious T2 title.
Berezovskiy had a testing day: “It was the first day, but we faced some breakdowns after 140km from the start. We lost one cylinder, probably with a spark plug problem. The mechanics have worked on this now, but we had one and sometimes two cylinders down and a slow speed. It was a slow day and we also had a problem with the rear shock absorber. The last 70km were done without rear shocks. But we still have third place. Honestly I have to finish, but I want to be competitive as well and see how we compare with our rivals.”
On Tuesday, competitors tackle a slightly shorter 244km special stage that winds its way through the Draa wadis and valleys. The event finishes in the city of Agadir on Friday.
OiLibya Rally of Morocco – T2 positions after leg 1:
1. Emil Khneisser (LEB)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Nissan Patrol Y62 4hr 28min 48sec
2. Akira Muira (JPN)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser 4hr 35min 44sec
3. Denis Berezovskiy (KAZ)/Ignat Falkov (KAZ) Nissan Patrol Y62 4hr 59min 25sec
4. Jaroslaw Kasberuk (POL)/Robert Szustkowski (POL) Ford Raptor 5hr 14min 22sec
5. Marat Abykayev (KAZ)/Andrei Chipenko (KYR) Toyota 5hr 23min 13sec
6. Valentina Casella (ITA)/Guilia Maroni (ITA) Nissan Patrol 5hr 25min 03sec
7. Imre Somfai (HUN)/Matyas Somfai (HUN) Toyota Land Cruiser 5hr 48min 21sec
8. Marco Piana (FRA)/Steven Griener (SUI) Toyota Land Cruiser 5hr 58min 48sec