CC Al-Attiyah. Meo and Hernandez Ponce win Losail special stage at start of QCCR
Qatar Cross-Country Rally - April 17-22, 2017
2017 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, round 4
2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, round 2
For immediate release
Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
AL-ATTIYAH, MEO AND HERNANDEZ PONCE WIN LOSAIL SUPER
SPECIAL STAGE AT START OF QATAR CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY
· Qatar’s Adel Abdulla takes slender T2 lead; Ahmed Allouh heads National Baja section
· Desert action starts from Rawdat Rashed with a gruelling section of 334.08km on Wednesday
LOSAIL (Qatar): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Frenchman Antoine Meo and Peru’s Alexis Hernandez Ponce entertained the crowds with the fastest times in the car, motorcycle and quad categories through the opening 4.85km super special stage of the Qatar Cross-Country Rally at Losail on Tuesday afternoon.
Run over a purpose-built track that featured jumps and water splashes and sections of Losail’s motocross course, the stage was also used to determine the all-important starting order for the first of four desert selective sections on Wednesday.
Al-Attiyah was 1.8 seconds quicker than Yazeed Al-Rajhi in the cars, while Leeroy Poulter slotted into third place on his Qatar debut with a South African-built Toyota Hilux. “I had a test in the car yesterday and there was a little pain from the crash in Abu Dhabi, but nothing too serious,” said Al-Attiyah. “I will see what develops. If I have to push, then I will.”
The tactical game began in earnest in the motorcycles and the stage win for Frenchman Antoine Meo enabled him to choose the most favourable starting position for the desert action. With the event reduced from five to four desert sections this year, a different strategy may pan out amongst the factory riders. Red Bull KTM team-mate Matthias Walkner finished second and Sam Sunderland gave the Austrian manufacturer a 1-2-3 finish.
Alexis Hernandez Ponce was the class of the quad field on his Yamaha Raptor. Rafal Sonik switched from a Honda to a Yamaha to finish second and Dutchman Kees Koolen third. Saudi riders Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi and Sultan Al-Masood also entered on their Yamahas, but were not registered for FIM Quad World Cup points. South Africa’s Martin Beyers dropped seven minutes to the leaders.
Before they tackled the stage, 25 FIA cars and 10 more running in the National Baja, along with 13 motorcycles and nine quads were flagged away from a ceremonial start by QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, with the honour of first into the stage falling to Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi on his Yamaha YFZ 450R.
Earlier in the day, 11 competitors had joined Al-Mannai at the official pre-event press conference at Losail. Riders Sam Sunderland, Pierre Alexandre Renet, Paulo Gonçalves, Mohammed Al-Balooshi and Rafal Sonik joined car drivers Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, Martin Prokop and the Qatari duo of Mohammed Abu Issa and Adel Abdulla at the media event.
Prokop said: “I have a car that was based upon one driven by Miroslav Zapletal and we are developing it now and are confident for the future. I have heard many stories about this event and the tricky navigation and my co-driver Jan (Tomanek) is quite worried and knows he will need to work hard.”
Defending motorcycle champion Sunderland is focused and determined to continue his winning run. “We know how difficult this rally can be and in terms of the navigation but this one and Abu Dhabi are strategic rallies. That’s the nature of them. I guess the end of the stage is a bit like a motocross with everyone jostling for position, but we have to deal with that.”
Honda’s Kevin Benavides blotted his copybook by falling and damaging his bike during a test session on Monday afternoon and defending FIM World Champion Pablo Quintanilla was forced to miss the pre-event press conference to visit hospital for treatment after sustaining a slight injury on Monday afternoon in another test.
A fascinating battle is anticipated in the T2 car category. Qatar’s Adel Abdulla, driving a Nissan Patrol, snatched an early 5.6- second lead over Saudi rival Yasir Saeidan. Abu Dhabi’s Mansour Al-Helai was a further second behind.
“I thank the QMMF, Nissan Qatar and Ooredoo for their support,” said Qatar’s defending FIA T2 champion Adel Abdulla at the pre-event press conference. “This is my home event and it is special to me. I need to close the gap on the leader in the championship. That is the goal this week.”
Frenchman Claude Fournier topped the T3 standings and first blood amongst the 10 competitors in the Qatar National Baja went to a flying Ahmed Allouh in his Polaris. Khalid Al-Mohannadi was second in a similar car.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), is the first of four desert selective sections at the Qatar Cross-Country Rally. Competitors will tackle a 334.08km section that starts near the village of Rawdat Rashed in the municipality of Al-Rayyan and finishes south of the former Sealine bivouac, 93.72km from Losail, after taking in a westerly and southerly loop of the State of Qatar.
2017 Qatar Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS1 (unofficial)
Cars - FIA
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4min 27.1sec
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Mini John Cooper Works Rally 4min 35.0sec
3. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux 4min 36.8sec
4. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 4min 42.0sec
5. Aron Domzala (POL)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4min 44.4sec
5. Erik Van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4min 44.4sec
7. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 4min 47.1sec
8. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 4min 49.3sec
9. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR 5min 00.5sec
10. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Hummer H3 Evo VII 5min 02.0sec
11. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Luciano Gennoni (ARG) Toyota Hilux 5min 04.9sec
12. Jürgen Schröder (DEU)/Maximilian Schröder (DEU) Toyota Hilux 5min 11.7sec
Cars - National
1. Ahmed Allouh (QAT)/Tamer Hijaeen (JOR) Polaris 5min 14.3sec
2. Khalid Al-Mohannadi (QAT) Polaris RXR 1000 5min 32.8sec
3. Abdullah Al-Rabban (QAT)/Mohammed Hassan (QAT) Jeep 2012 5min 39.2sec
4. Jamal Fakhroo (QAT)/Saeed Shawared (QAT) Nissan Safari 5min 50.7sec
1. Antoine Meo (FRA) KTM 450 Rally 4min 31.9sec
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally 4min 38.8sec
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally 4min 40.2sec
4. Pierre Alexander Renet (FRA) Husqvarna 450 Rally 4min 42.8sec
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda 450 CRF Rally 4min 46.6sec
6. Paolo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda 450 CRF Rally 4min 48.1sec
7. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna 450 Rally 5min 00.0sec
Quads - FIM
1. Alexis Hernandez Ponce (PER) Yamaha Raptor 700R 5min 17.0sec
2. Rafal Sonik (POL) Yamaha YFM 700 R 5min 30.1sec
3. Kees Koolen (NLD) Barren Racer One 690 5min 36.3sec
4. Rodolfo Schippers (GUA) Yamaha Raptor 700R 5min 48.6sec
5. Camelia Liparoti (ITA) Yamaha Raptor 700R 6min 35.7sec
6. Martin Beyers (ZAF) Yamaha 12min 30.4sec
Quads – non-FIM
1. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha YFZ 450R 5min 22.5sec
2. Sultan Al-Masood (SAU) Yamaha YFZ 450R 6min 35.0sec
Wednesday, April 19 – spectator points
SS km GPS Coordinates Remarks 1st bike 1st car
31,66 25° 22.766'N 51° 1.023'E Dukhan highway / Al Kharsaah rd 07.29 08:59
50,77 25° 19.676'N 50° 53.023'E Dukhan highway / Zughayn al Bahth rd 07.40 09:10
85,10 25° 14.207'N 50° 58.644'E Umm Bab / Al Kharsaah rd 08:01 09:31
85,42 25° 14.336'N 50° 58.764'E Umm Bab / Al Kharsaah rd 08:01 09:31
87,01 25° 14.933'N 50° 59.423'E Umm Bab / Al Kharsaah rd 08:02 09:32
106,30 25° 9.647'N 51° 4.684'E PC1 – Umm Bab rd 08:13 09:43
193,72 24° 50.222'N 51° 2.746'E PC3 – Al Aamriya rd 09:21 10:36
248,74 24° 58.429'N 51° 16.295'E PC4 – Al Kaharrara rd 09:54 11:09
334,33 24° 52.760'N 51° 30.056'E SS2 STOP (sharp dunes before the finish) 10:45 12:00
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Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2017 Qatar Cross-Country Rally, Qatar mobile: + 974 55747423, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases). Facebook group: FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. Twitter: @LordPerkins