CC Emil Khneisser slips back after punishing third stage in Morocco
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 9
OiLibya Rally of Morocco 2015, October 5-9
For immediate release
Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
NISSAN MIDDLE EAST-BACKED EMIL KHNEISSER SLIPS
BACK AFTER PUNISHING THIRD MOROCCAN STAGE
· Denis Berezovskiy suffers major delays but remains on course for T2 title
· Second successive stage win for Japan’s Muira; Qatar’s Al-Thani in second
ZAGORA (Morocco): Abu Dhabi-based Lebanese driver Emil Khneisser and Nissan team-mate Denis Berezovskiy suffered a fraught third stage of the 2015 OiLibya Rally of Morocco on Wednesday.
The Nissan Middle East-backed duo was classified in third and fourth overall in the T2 category at the start of the day in their powerful Nissan Patrol Y62s. But they suffered their own fair share of problems on the third 274km selective section.
Khneisser and Russian navigator Alexey Kuzmich incurred a fistful of time penalties after getting stuck in some treacherous sand dunes five kilometres from the finish of the stage. The Lebanese had already lost over two hours on an earlier section of the route and slipped down the T2 standings, with rival Kazakh driver Marat Abykayev and Hungarian Imre Somfai also badly delayed with their own problems.
Berezovskiy and fellow Kazakh co-driver Ignat Falkov were not so fortunate in the second of the Nissan Middle East-backed cars. They were unable to reach the first of the passage control checkpoints in the desert and incurred a maximum stage time penalty for not finishing the day’s route. Fortunately, they began the event with a massive lead in the T2 World Championship and remain on course to give Nissan the T2 world title in Agadir on Friday.
Berezovskiy has been upbeat about the strength of the Nissan at the start of the day nonetheless: “Yesterday was a funny day and we had a similar problem with the engine. After 5km we felt we were missing one cylinder. We continued and then, after 15km of the stage, we felt we were missing two. We continued after dropping the pressure and we finished all the stage. I didn’t expect we could finish the stage with just six cylinders and then drive a 75km liaison afterwards. Amazingly, we finished 29 seconds inside our allotted time.”
Japanese driver Akira Muira was the first of the T2 competitors into the day’s stage and he and French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter recorded their second successive fastest time to extend their overall lead.
Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani, the 1993 FIA Middle East rally champion, suffered a catalogue of early event problems, but was second quickest on the day’s stage. Pole Jaroslaw Kasberuk came in third.
On Thursday, competitors tackle a selective section of 293km and a road liaison of 348km between Zagora and the city of Agadir, where the event finishes on Friday.
OiLibya Rally of Morocco – T2 positions after leg 3 (unofficial @ 18.33hrs):
1. Akira Muira (JPN)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser 13hr 10min 45sec
2. Marco Piana (FRA)/Steven Griener (SUI) Toyota Land Cruiser 17hr 11min 21sec
3. Jaroslaw Kasberuk (POL)/Robert Szustkowski (POL) Ford Raptor 17hr 51min 47sec
Emil Khneisser (LEB)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Nissan Patrol Y62 TBA
Denis Berezovskiy (KAZ)/Ignat Falkov (KAZ) Nissan Patrol Y62 TBA