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Cross Country – Al Rajhi/Orr grab the stage win

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Qatar Cross Country Rally - Leg 4

Yazeed Al Rajhi and Michael Orr claimed their first stage victory of the Qatar Cross Country Rally today, but it is national hero Nasser Al-Attiyah, co-driven by Mathieu Baumel, who continues to head the leaderboard on the opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. Al Rajhi and Orr maintain their overall second position with Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk rounding out the provisional podium positions after the penultimate day of competition.

Today’s route was scheduled to take in two selective sections of 219.79 and 124.84 kilometres respectively. However, due to strong winds and for safety reasons, the first section was shortened to 119.39 kilometres with the afternoon stage - where weather conditions were worse - cancelled.

Starting the day with a commanding advantage, Al-Attiyah was able to measure his pace over the tricky tracks as he chases a seventh win on his home round of the series. “We had one flat and had to stop, but otherwise okay,” said the Qatari, third fastest. “Third on the road tomorrow will be good and I think the weather will be clearer. Early morning there was dust, but then it was clearer with the strong wind. Sealine [SS5] may have been a problem if we had gone there.”

Al Rajhi was on a mission from the outset and the Toyota Hilux driver powered through the section, fastest throughout, to break Al-Attiyah’s stronghold on the stage wins. “It was good, everything okay,” he said. “We held position and that was the most important thing. Tomorrow we’ll open the road and take more experience.”

Przygonski, in the third of the Hilux cars, was hot on Al Rajhi’s heels, he and Gottschalk back in a familiar rhythm after struggling earlier in the event. They were just two minutes and 34 seconds adrift of the winning time to consolidate their third position. “It was a short but good stage and we enjoyed it,” said the Pole. “We caught Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and then got a puncture and had to stop. You could feel the difference with the wind; sometimes upwind you could feel there was no power and with the side wind you could also feel the car moving to the right and left.”

Khalid Al Mohannadi and Sébastien Delaunay maintained their fourth position overall and continue to head the T3 category in their Polaris machinery. “All okay, no problems and just one day to go,” said the Qatari who finished fourth in T3 on the stage.

Ahmed Al-Kuwari and Manuel Lucchese dropped time in the section and finished seventh in T3 but held on to their fifth place in the overall classification. “I have no one but myself to blame,” said Al-Kuwari. “We decided to push all-out today to see if we could make up seven minutes, because with the weather you never know if you have a stage tomorrow. We pushed a bit too hard and got a puncture. Once you are in the race, you don’t think about the weather conditions. The car veers to the left or right a little, but the positive thing is you can follow the car in front a bit closer because the wind blows the dust away.”

Saleh Alsaif and Ali Hassan Obaid round out the top six, third in the section in their T3 machinery behind Mubarak Al-Hajri and category stage winner, American Austin Jones.

Thursday’s final day of competition takes in one selective section of 254.58 kilometres. The route heads north, hugging the western coastline before turning southwards and finishing in the central desert.

Manateq Qatar Cross Country Rally - Provisional results after Leg 4 (16:30 hrs local)


Nasser Al Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel

Toyota Hilux

9hr 36min 06sec


Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr

Toyota Hilux

10hr 52min 12sec


Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk

Toyota Hilux

11hr 37min 05sec


Khalid Al Mohannadi/Sébastien Delaunay

Polaris RZR 1000 Turbo

12hr 22min 50sec


Ahmed Al-Kuwari/Manuel Lucchese

Can-Am Maverick X3

12hr 33min 57sec


Saleh Alsaif/Ali Hassan Obaid

Can-Am X3 2019

12hr 47min 16sec


Fedor Vorobyev/Kirill Shubin

OT3 Overdrive

12hr 59min 35sec


Kees Koolen/Serge Bruynkens

OT3 Overdrive

13hr 01min 54sec


Balazs Szalay/Laszlo Bunkozci

Open Grandland X

13hr 27min 01sec


Aleksey Shmotev/Andrey Rudnitski

Can-Am Maverick

15hr 16min 22sec

T3 leaders Khalid Al Mohannadi/Sébastien Delaunay

Photos: RallyZone