CC Al Attiyah crushes the opposition in leg two of Qatar Baja

NBK Group Qatar Baja 2005
FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 5

For immediate release
Friday, November 25th, 2005


Spain's Pau Soler and UAE's Al-Shamsi lead in bikes and quads;
Sousa's failure hands Spaniard Blazquez FIA Baja title

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah cruised effortlessly into a massive 2h 03m 28s lead after the second leg of this year's NBK Group Qatar Baja, being held under the patronage of HH Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Prime Minister of Qatar. While the reigning FIA Middle East rally champion completely dominated the car category in his BMW X5, Spaniard Pau Soler and the UAE's Mohammed Al-Shamsi led the bike and quad sections.

But the performance of the day belonged to Nasser and his French co-driver Alain Guehennec. The pair were 30m 54s ahead of their nearest rival Jaralla Al-Marri on the shorter opening selective section and over 90 minutes ahead on the second.

~The car was perfect today,~ beamed last year's winner. ~If I can keep up this pace on the Dakar Rally then we will have a real chance. I decided to really push today. Alain was not sure, but I wanted to have a go flat out. The dunes were not easy, but it was a good test for me. I was shocked to have such a big lead.~

Qatari drivers dominated the leaderboard, with Al-Marri pushing his Land Rover into second position, 17 minutes ahead of Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani's Nissan through the opening stage. Mohammed Al-Mannai and Italy's Ivo Conci followed closely behind, but Sergei Shmakov lost one hour in the sand dunes on the opening loop and slipped to eighth in his Buggy, only to climb back to third at the end of the day.

Qatar's Khalifa Khalifa Al-Attiyah crashed his Land Rover out of the race and both Al-Thani and Al-Mannai lost time on the second loop, as Al-Marri and Shmakov pulled away from the rest of the field to set up the exciting prospect of a Qatar one-two on the podium on Saturday.

In the battle to decide the outcome of the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas the advantage was firmly with Spain's Marc Blazquez from the start, after Portuguese rival Rui Sousa lost six minutes with electrical problems on the opening stage and was forced to change two rear shock absorbers on his hired Nissan. Sousa finished the second stage a mere 1m 09s behind the Spaniard, as both drivers held sixth and seventh positions, but it went sadly wrong for the Portuguese driver on the longer second loop and Blazquez was able to coast towards the Baja title.

Spaniard Pau Soler set a punishing time through the opening desert stage to take a 20-minute lead over Austrian Juen Beat and third-placed Khalid Khamis Ozair. But Beat was on Soler's pace through the shorter second loop and will start the final stage on Saturday 18m 22s behind his rival. Khamis Ozair slipped behind the Italian Fabio Benetti on the second stage, as Italy's Claudio Mana and Spain's Jordi Martin Trim completed the top six.

Last year's bikes' champion Tim Trenker fell off his KTM on the opening special stage and lost around 30 seconds on Thursday afternoon. ~It was quite a big accident,~ said Tim. ~But the main problem was a persistent carburettor problem we needed to fix before the start of the long stage today.~ He held third for much of the first stage on Friday, but slipped to fourth at the finish and fell out of contention in the afternoon.

UAE rider Mohammed Al-Shamsi led the quad section from Nasser Abdullah, with nearest rivals Angelo Montico and Rene Grossmann some way behind. UAE quad rider Atif Al-Zarouni, a former winner of the category in the UAE Desert Challenge, was battling on through the pain barrier after crashing two weeks ago in Dubai. ~If I had been sensible I would be resting now with my feet up,~ said Zarouni. ~But I wanted to come here and take part in the Baja.~ The UAE rider stopped shortly after the start this morning. Qatar's Abdulrahman Al-Hajri was just outside the top six.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the final day of this year's Qatar Baja and bike, quad and car competitors will tackle a single shorter selective special, before returning to the QMMF in Doha for the finishing celebrations.

The event would not have been possible without the support of NBK Group, Qatar National Bank, NK Portakabin, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Navigation.

Positions after leg 2 (unofficial):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 4h 22m 01s
2. Jaralla Al-Marri (QA)/Mohammed Al-Marri (QA) Land Rover 6h 25m 29s
3. Sergei Shmakov (RUS)/Sergei Miskin (RUS) Buggy 6h 41m 53s
4. Mark Blasquez (E)/Ignacio Salvador (E) Nissan 6h 49m 50s

1. Pau Soler (E) KTM 5h 09m 08s
2. Juen Beat (A) KTM 5h 27m 30s
3. Fabio Benetti (I) KTM 6h 06m 25s
4. Khalid Khamis Ozair (UAE) Honda 6h 12m 19s
5. Claudio Mana (I) KTM 6h 15m 54s
6. Jordi Martin Prim (E) Yamaha 6h 18m 04s

1. Mohammed Al-Shamsi (UAE) Honda 7h 09m 40s
2. Nasser Abdullah (UAE) Yamaha 7h 10m 44s
3. Angelo Montico (I) Honda 7h 24m 04s
4. Rene Grossmann (Q) Polaris 7h 27m 37s
5. Suuaid Jassimal Q) Bombardier 7h 35m 59s
6. Federico Zamboni (I) Honda 7h 38m 44s

Tracking available on - tracking.iritrack.com/posi
Full results available on www.qmmf.com


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, NBK Group Qatar Baja 2005 Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Media Centre, Barzan Meeting Rooms, Movenpick Hotel, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 4364181, Fax: + 974 4291111
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
and Atala Abousaleh, NBK Group Qatar Baja, Arabic Press Officer, Dubai mobile: + (971 50) 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 25/11/2005

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