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CC Al Attiyah climbs to third place after fourth Moroccan stage

2007 Guy Hoquet Rally of Morocco
For immediate release
Friday, September 28th, 2007

X-RAID’S AL-ATTIYAH STORMS INTO THIRD OVERALL

WITH SECOND FASTEST TIME ON FOURTH ZAGORA STAGE

 

Chicherit’s challenge thwarted by electrical wiring woes

 Paolo Nobre drops time but maintains seventh position

 

ZAGORA (Morocco): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec stormed into third position in the overall standings of the 2007 Guy Hoquet Rally of Morocco after the fourth leg of the fourth round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup around Zagora on Friday.

 

The AlgoDyne Green Power Racing Team duo now head into the final two stages of this year’s event, 12m 39s ahead of fourth-placed Portuguese driver Carlos Sousa. South African Giniel de Villiers moved into the overall lead after setting the fastest time and beating overnight leader and team mate Carlos Sainz on the day’s varied 248km timed section.

 

Al-Attiyah was the fastest driver in the entire field at the 52km point of the day’s special, 17 seconds ahead of Giniel de Villiers and 1m 31s in front of overall leader Carlos Sainz. The Qatari maintained his advantage on the stage through the passage control at 115km and was a full 1m 20s in front of De Villiers to further emphasise the potential of the BMW X3 CC when he was afforded a clean run.

 

The Doha resident continued his scintillating form as far as the 173km point, but lost crucial time on the final section with a minor navigational problem and dropped around four minutes to the South African, although he was comfortably quicker than the rest of the entire field.

 

“We were going really well, leading the stage, until we made a small navigational mistake on the last section,” said Al-Attiyah. “Giniel went right and we went left and that has cost us the stage win. But we have third place now and there are still two days to go.”

 

Team mates Guerlain Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel were awarded a stage maximum penalty for failing to complete the third Zagora loop stage, because of their electrical problems, although they were given the option to restart this morning in seventh position on the road and in 24th position in the overall standings.

 

A test wiring loom was fitted to the car, because the team had been unable to ascertain the reason for the electrical problems, but a similar fault reoccurred after two kilometres of the day’s special and Chicherit returned to the service point. Team director Sven Quandt has confirmed that a new loom will be fitted this evening in readiness for the final two stages on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Brazilians Paolo Nobre and Filipe Palmeiro were classified seventh overall at the start of the fourth leg and began the special sixth on the road behind American Mark Miller. They had dropped over 40 minutes to the leaders by the passage control and over an hour at the 173km point, but eventually finished the day in a time of 4h 02m 38s and maintained seventh place in the overall standings.

 

“I am very pleased with Nasser’s performance today,” said X-Raid Director Sven Quandt. “It goes to prove that we have the pace and competitiveness to match the factory Volkswagens when the cars are running without punctures or any technical problems. Nasser is now in a podium place and we must make sure that he stays there over the next two days. We also need to get to the bottom of Guerlain’s electrical problems and will fit a new wiring loom in his car this evening.”

 

Tomorrow (Saturday) marks the penultimate selective section of the Rally of Morocco and the fifth leg between Zagora and the tourist town of Ouarzazate. It is the longest day of the entire event, totalling 546km, and begins with a 99km tarmac liaison to the start of the 344km competitive selective section at M’Hamid.

 

This will be the most varied of all this year’s stages and features a series of small sand dunes and around 50km of gravel from the start. This gives way to a tricky 20km sandy section and a series of parallel tracks through the Chegaga Erg where accurate navigation will be essential. The stage passes Lake Iriki, the military fort at Oued Sassi and the Algerian frontier on a track formerly used by the Dakar Rally.

 

A passage control at the 180km point splits a testing gravel region, where punctures are a distinct threat, before the special heads towards the assistance point at Tissint. The special concludes with a short tarmac section and a sinuous climb into the Atlas mountains to a height of 1,730 metres. There will be around 70km on a narrow winding piste through the hills and a sharp descent to an open plain and on to the stage finish at Kourkouda, 103km on a tarmac road away from the overnight halt in Ouarzazate.

 

Guy Hoquet Rally of Morocco 2007 – positions on leg four:

1. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg                2h 35m 31s

2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3CC            2h 39m 27s

3. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Perin (F) Volkswagen Touareg                                 2h 43m 29s

4. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Schlesser Buggy             2h 54m 27s

5. Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Schlesser-Buggy                2h 55m 59s

6. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg                         2h 57m 49s

 

Guy Hoquet Rally of Morocco 2007 – overall positions after leg four (unofficial @ 13.00hrs):

1. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg                10h 59m 14s

2. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Perin (F) Volkswagen Touareg                                 11h 02m 41s

3. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3CC            11h 20m 50s

4. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg                         11h 33m 29s

5. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Touareg                       11h 59m 57s

6. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Schlesser Buggy            12h 23m 24s

7. Paolo Nobre (BR)/Filipe Palmeiro (BR) BMW X3 CC                                13h 40m 02s

 

Ends

 

Further information and photos are available at www.x-raid.de or contact Yvette Theisen at X-raid GmbH, Tel: + 49 (0) 6147 204670, E-mail: y.theisen@x-raid.de.

 

www.npo.fr

 

 

 

Date issued: 28/09/2007

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