Al Attiyah closes in on victory; Al Rajhi fights back with stage win | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

Al Attiyah closes in on victory; Al Rajhi fights back with stage win

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The fourth leg of the Qatar Cross Country Rally took in two selective sections and while Nasser Al Attiyah took his fourth straight win in the first, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi claimed honours in the second.

Nasser Al Attiyah is closing in on a sixth Qatar Cross Country Rally victory, the Qatari again extending his advantage in the penultimate leg of the event to overnight with a lead of 12 minutes and 33 seconds. The Toyota Hilux driver won the first of the day’s two selective sections - his fourth straight win - but Yazeed Al Rajhi broke his stronghold in the second section. The Saudi Arabian took the stage win by an incredible eight seconds over 121.41 kilometres to maintain his second position overall. Jakub Przygonski continues to hold third in the John Cooper Works Rally Mini, the Pole a further three minutes adrift.

Monday’s fourth leg was the only one to feature two selective sections; the first a fast and rocky 227.99 kilometre test in the west of the State, before a short road section took the crews to the dunes in the far south around the northern shore of the Inland Sea for the penultimate 121.41 kilometre stage.

Al Attiyah set the early pace, extending his lead over Al Rajhi in SS4’s first 80 kilometres despite a puncture but, for the first time during the event, the Qatari was not the fastest throughout the stage. He upped the speed again in the closing section to start the penultimate stage with 14 minutes and 35 seconds in hand to his team-mate. In the second stage, Al Attiyah took no risks in the dunes and is now focused on notching up his sixth win on his home cross country rally. “We had one flat at the start of the first stage and we tried to push after that and made up some time,” said Al Attiyah. “In the second we were focused on finishing with no risk. There was a lot of wind and dust and opening the road wasn’t easy.”

Al Rajhi was quickest in the mid-part of the first stage to finish second behind Al Attiyah, but it was not an easy run and he collected three punctures along the way. He then came into his own in the dunes. He set the fastest time in the second stage, finally breaking Al Attiyah’s grip on the event to claw back just over two minutes with one selective section remaining tomorrow.

Reigning Champion Przygonski lost five minutes in the day’s opener, also with three punctures. “I then lost a bit of confidence; we were trying to survive because with one more [puncture] it would be over,” said the Pole. He then powered through the second stage, finishing a mere eight seconds adrift of stage winner Al Rajhi. The fight for second overall remains fierce, the Pole only three minutes and 14 seconds behind and determined to fight hard for the position through the final selective section.

Vladimir Vasilyev continues to hold a lonely fourth, the Russian 35 minutes off the provisional podium with fifth-placed Yasir Hamad Seaidan 34 minutes further behind. The Saudi Arabian X-raid Mini driver dropped time in the first section and was happy with his performance in the dunes, learning more about the car as the kilometres pass. Bernhard Ten Brinke has moved up a position into sixth, courtesy of a broken driveshaft for Miroslav Zapletal. Ten Brinke had a good run through the first stage despite a puncture, navigation working well for him and reigning Champion co-driver Tom Colsoul. They missed a couple of points in the second stage, ending up the wrong side of the dunes, but the Dutch/Belgian pairing are focused on finishing the opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies on a high.

Reinaldo Marques Varela is seventh and continues to head the T3 category in his Can-Am Maverick. Qatar’s Adel Abdulla, the 2017 T2 Champion, claimed the T3 category win in both stages, but Brazilian Varela - who has a good advantage over second-placed Fedor Vorobyev - is now looking to the finish and a trouble-free run over the final section. The only female competing in the event, Camelia Liparoti, is ninth in her Yamaha and third in T3, and Eugenio Amos rounds out the top 10, despite picking up huge penalties. Mohammed Al Meer is 15th but the Qatari leads T2 in his Toyota Landcruiser. Ibrahim Al Muhana, the sole runner in the truck category, made it through the leg in his T4 Mercedes Unimog in a provisional 17th overall.

Tuesday’s final leg covers just one selective section of 263.88 kilometres before the prize-giving back at the Pearl-Doha.
Qatar Cross Country Rally – Provisional classification after Leg 4


Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel

Toyota Hilux

10hr 50min 00sec


Yazeed Mohammed Al Rajhi/Dirk Von Zitzewitz

Toyota Hilux Overdrive

11hr 02min 33sec


Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk

John Cooper Works Rally

11hr 05min 47sec


Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov


11hr 40min 46sec


Yasir Hamad Seaidan/Laurent Lichtleuchter

X-raid Mini

12hr 14min 28sec


Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul

Toyota Hilux Overdrive

13hr 40min 59sec


Reinaldo Marques Varela/Gustavo Souza Gugelmin

Can-Am Maverick

15hr 13min 39sec


Fedor Vorobyev/Kirill Shubin

Can-Am Maverick

17hr 49min 49sec


Camelia Liparoti/Max Delfino

Yamaha YZX

19hr 05min 10sec


Eugenio Amos/Sebastian Delaunay

Ford 2WD Buggy

108hr 25min 39sec


Jakub Przygonski battles for second position

Reinaldo Marques Varela tops T3

Mohammed Al Meer leads T2