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CC Meeke and Al-Attiyah secure FIA T3 and T4 wins in South Racing Can-Ams at Qatar Baja

Qatar International Baja – March 24th-26th, 2022
FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 2

For immediate release
Saturday, March 26th, 2022

KRIS MEEKE AND KHALIFA SALEH AL-ATTIYAH SECURE FIA T3 AND T4 WINS
IN SOUTH RACING CAN-AMS AT QATAR INTERNATIONAL BAJA

• South Racing Can-Ams seal top three places in T3 and top two positions in T4

LUSAIL (QATAR): The South Racing Can-Am Team enjoyed another superb weekend of successes at the weather-shortened Qatar International Baja, round two of the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

South Racing were involved in the running of 10 Can-Ams on the Qatar event. Six machines were entered under the QMMF Team banner with a further three by the Nasser Racing Academy and a 10th machine for Qatari veteran Sadoon Al-Kuwari.

Violent winds and shifting sands forced rally officials to cancel the final day’s competitive action and the final results stood as at the end of Friday’s action.

WRC star Kris Meeke teamed up with French co-driver François Cazalet for the first time and the Andorra-based Ulsterman reached the ceremonial finish in Lusail in fourth place in the overall rankings behind a trio of T1 Toyotas and first in the T3 category for lightweight prototype machines.

“I actually really enjoyed this new discipline,” said Meeke, who had tackled the Dakar Rally before on one occasion. “We had two punctures on the first stage and had to stop and change and that left us no spare wheels for the second one (stage), so we really had to take it easy. It was tricky but we had to manage it. Top marks to François, my co-driver, he was on the money, clear and precise. It’s really tricky here. We picked the right roads but his instructions were very clear. I was following five or six cars on the second one so the bike tracks were not a distraction. I really enjoyed the Baja.”

Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah teamed up with Frenchman Max Delfino in the second of the Nasser Racing-entered Can-Ams. Despite incurring 12 minutes of time penalties for missing route waypoints on Friday, the Qatari reached the finish in sixth overall and won the T4 category. The father and son crew of Sadoon and Nasser Al-Kuwari were second in the category, one place behind in the general classification.

Meeke’s former team-mate and current WRC star Dani Sordo joined forces with Frenchman Xavier Panseri in the third of the Nasser Racing Mavericks. He set some competitive pace on his first ever Baja-style event, but a succession of missed waypoints cost the Spaniard dearly and 47 minutes of time penalties pushed him down to 13th overall and eighth in T3.

Ahmed Al-Kuwari and Manuel Lucchese opened the road on the first day in the desert and overcame minor navigational issues and punctures to finish in a fine fifth overall and second in T3 in their QMMF Team Can-Am.

Rashid Al-Muhannadi teamed up with Michal Goczal’s usual co-driver Szymon Gospodarczyk to finish eighth overall and third in T3. Former FIA World Cup T2 champion Adel Abdulla returned to action alongside Portugal’s Hugo Magalhães, the Portuguese being a last-minute replacement co-driver for Spain’s Marc Serra. The Qatari guided his QMMF Team car to 10th place and fifth in T3.

The QMMF Team’s Khalid Al-Muhannadi recruited the services of biker Edward Lines to finish 12th overall and seventh in T3, while his cousin Ahmad Al-Muhannadi lined up with Mubarak Al-Khelaifi to finish 16th and 10th in T3.

Abdullah Al-Kuwari teamed up with Spanish off-road biker Marc Sola as his co-driver. The pair suffered serious tyre issues on the first day that dropped them to 17th in the general classification and the fatigued Qatari decided not to restart on Saturday.

South Racing Can-Am Team’s managing director Scott Abraham said: “Another great Qatar Baja. It was great to be back here after a small hiatus. The terrain in Qatar has always proved to be challenging for man and machine. It was a great stage yesterday for the team. Congratulations to Kris and François for winning T3 and it was a great return to form for Khalifa with Max to win T4.

“We had a clean sweep of the podium in T3. On the T4 side there was a nice return for Sadoon Al-Kuwari, together with his son, on his return to racing for the first time in many years. It’s great to see families getting back involved in the sport again.

“The development programme with the QMMF was a great initiative and, hopefully, we can continue to drive similar programmes like this across the region in the future to build cross-country championship events in the Middle East.

Competitors began the compact three-day event with a run through a 9.20km Qualifying Stage on Thursday afternoon. Meeke and Sordo had never driven a Can-Am in competition before, although Meeke had tackled one Dakar and Sordo saw the dunes in the south of Qatar for the first time two days before the start.

It hardly mattered and the duo showed their WRC pedigree to set the third and fifth quickest times and earn first and second in T3. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah came home in sixth and first in T4 in the thrd of the Nasser Racing-entered Can-Ams, the brother of four-time Dakar winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, easing ahead of veteran Sadoon Al-Kuwari in the T4 tussle.

There were strong performances for the Qatari quartet of Khalid and Ahmad Al-Muhannadi, Adel Abdulla and Ahmed Al-Kuwari, who came home in third, fourth, fifth and sixth in T3 in their South Racing-built QMMF Team Can-Ams.

Crews tackled two selective sections of 122.73km and 124.86km the following morning.

Meeke sustained two flat tyres but praised co-driver François Cazalet for guiding him to fourth in the car category and first in the T3 class for lightweight prototype machines. Al-Attiyah came home in sixth and increased his T4 lead, despite two punctures. Seventh-placed Sadoon Al-Kuwari was Al-Attiyah’s closest challenger in T4.

Sordo’s desert debut was plagued by navigational delays. The WRC driver originally held sixth overall and second in T3 but he had missed three successive masked waypoints (15 minutes each) and a standard waypoint and was awarded 47 minutes in time penalties, pushing the Spaniard down to 13th place and eighth in T3.

“We are back, a long way back, we had a lot of problems,” said a clearly frustrated Sordo. “I just drive and follow. I am sorry but we were lost a lot.”

Ahmed Al-Kuwari opened the road in the morning and avoided serious delays to hold fifth overall, with Rashid Al-Muhannadi and former FIA T2 World Champion Adel Abdulla holding eighth and 10th in the general classification. Tyre issues cost Abdulla Al-Kuwari a lot of time.

The wind intensified on Saturday morning and conditions began to deteriorate in the western deserts. Race officials moved the start of the car stage to PC1, but it was to no avail. There was no respite in the powerful north-westerly winds and the decision was taken to cancel the stage, with results standings after Friday’s two timed sections.

With the FIA regulations stating that a certain percentage of the event had to be covered before full championship points were awarded, only 50% of the designated points were handed to registered drivers.

2022 Qatar International Baja – FIA T3 final standings:
1. Kris Meeke (AND)/François Cazalet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 2hr 50min 40.6sec
2. Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Manuel Lucchese (QAT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 3hr 12min 05.9sec
3. Rashid Al-Muhannadi (QAT)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T3) 3hr 22min 48.3sec
4. Yasmeen Koloc (ARE)/Stéphane Duplé (FRA) Can-Am Maverick DV21 (T3) 3hr 29min 23.6sec
5. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Hugo Magalhães (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 3hr 35min 48.8sec
6. Aliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Can-Am Maverick DV21 (T3) 3hr 36min 35.6sec
7. Khalid Al-Muhannadi (QAT)/Edward Lines (GBR) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T3) 3hr 46min 53.1sec
8. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 3hr 56min 30.8sec
9. Hamad Al-Harbi (SAU)/Waleed Al-Shegawi (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 4hr 00min 02.4sec
10. Ahmad Al-Muhannadi (QAT)/Mubarak Al-Khelaifi (QAT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 4hr 01min 04.2sec
Abdulla Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marc Sola (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 DNF

2022 Qatar International Baja – FIA T4 final standings:
1. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Max Delfino (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T4) 3hr 14min 01.7sec
2. Sadoon Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick XRS T4) 3hr 18min 34.5sec
3. Camelia Liparoti (SMR)/Xavier Garcia (ESP) Yamaha YXZ 1000R (T4) 13hr 07min 41.1sec

Ends

For further information: contact Scott Abraham, South Racing, Email: Scott.Abraham@southracing.com, Tel: + 49 172 6662880.

www.southracing.com
Facebook group: South Racing Can-Am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Date issued: 26/03/2022

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