Cross-Country Rallies – Al-Attiyah/Baumel take control in Saudi Arabia

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Hail Rally, the final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies

Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel are closing in on another title in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, with the duo leading the Hail Rally after the opening two days of competition. Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk have moved into second, with the all-Russian crew of Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov third in a similar MINI John Cooper Works Buggy.

The final and decisive round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies got underway on Wednesday with the first of four selective sections in the spectacular deserts of Saudi Arabia. The opening second-longest section of the rally was trouble-free for Al-Attiyah and Baumel with the Qatari/French pairing claiming the fastest time in the 258-kilometre stage. Today, the Toyota Gazoo Racing crew again took important leg points with second on the longest section of the rally - 314 kilometres - to lead the pack by seven minutes and 24 seconds with two legs remaining.

Przygonski and Gottschalk are second mid-way through the event. The Polish/German crew dropped time yesterday with a navigation issue, finishing third, but bounced back today to claim the stage win by 59 seconds. Krotov and Zhiltsov have been on fine form, the Russians claiming second yesterday, but fourth today dropped them behind Przygonski by just under two minutes. Sebastian Halpern and Bernardo Graue are the third Buggy crew in the top four overall.

Vladimir Vasilyev and Oleg Uperenko dropped a position today after claiming fourth overall yesterday. The Russian BMW X5 crew lost nearly 11 minutes to the leader on SS2 and are nearly 20 minutes adrift of the overall lead. Title contenders Lucio Alvarez and Armand Monleon now have an uphill task ahead of them as they sit in sixth overall in their Toyota Hilux Overdrive.
For Yazeed Al Rajhi, newly-crowned champion of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas*, it was a disappointing event and the Saudi Arabian withdrew after the opening leg having lost too much time with a gearbox issue to challenge for the win.

T4 drivers once again feature in the overall top 10 with Poland’s Michal Goczał holding a fine seventh overall and leading the category ahead of his brother and fellow Can-Am driver, Marek. Australian Molly Taylor, category leader last night, dropped time today and slipped to third in T4.

Abdullah Saleh Alsaif leads T3 by an impressive 29 minutes and six seconds after setting another fastest time today. He heads female drivers Mashael Al-Obaidan, Annett Fischer and Dania Akeel, who broke a steering arm on the opening day.

The battle for top honours continues over another two legs before the finish of the final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies on Saturday.

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.