Al-At­tiyah misses out on FIA world ti­tle by one point


Gulf Times - Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE - By Our Cor­re­spon­dent

Over­drive Rac­ing and Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing en­dured mixed for­tunes in what turned out to be a dra­matic Rally of Morocco, the fi­nal round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Coun­try Ral­lies.

South African driver Giniel de Villiers man­aged to claim the out­right vic­tory for the fourth time and the first with new Span­ish co-driver Spaniard Alex Haro at the wheel of one of four Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing Hiluxes.

Nasser Saleh al-At­tiyah be­gan the event with a nine-point lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Coun­try Ral­lies, but cruel en­gine is­sues on the fourth day cost the Qatari and French nav­i­ga­tor Matthieu Baumel a use­ful lead they had built up over the first three days.

The Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing pair­ing were re­ly­ing on ri­val Stéphane Peter­hansel fin­ish­ing lower than fifth over­all if they were to claim the world ti­tle again.

The French­man man­aged to reach the fin­ish in fifth place and snatched the ti­tle from the Qatari by a sin­gle point.

Two-time FIA For­mula One World Cham­pion Fer­nando Alonso gained valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence from his first ever FIA cross-coun­try event and over­came punc­tures, a front axle break­age and ev­ery­thing that the Mo­roc­can desert could throw at him to reach the fin­ish in 27th po­si­tion with five-time Dakar win­ner Marc Coma act­ing as his co­driver.

Dutch­man Bern­hard Ten Brinke and Bel­gian Tom Col­soul were run­ning strongly through the early stages be­fore los­ing a lot of time af­ter dam­ag­ing the car in a hole.

They re­cov­ered well to reach the fin­ish in an un­of­fi­cial 26th in the fourth of the Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing cars.

Yazeed Al-Ra­jhi and Ul­ster­man Michael Orr over­came nig­gling time de­lays dur­ing the course of the five days of ac­tion in the desert to head home the Over­drive Rac­ing con­tin­gent in sixth place.

Rus­sian duo of Vik­tor Khoroshavt­sev and An­ton Niko­laev stayed clear of se­ri­ous prob­lems in their Over­drive Rac­ing-pre­pared car and reached the fin­ish in Fes in 12th over­all.

Dutch­man Erik van Loon and French­man Se­bastien De­lau­nay stopped to as­sist at the scene of a ri­val’s ac­ci­dent and then suc­cumbed to is­sues of their own soon af­ter­wards, de­spite set­ting sev­eral im­pres­sive stage times in their Over­drive Rac­ing Toy­ota Hilux.

The French crew of Ro­nan Chabot and Gilles Pil­lot were not able to start the event af­ter Chabot rolled dur­ing the pre-event test ses­sion.

Only the mo­tor­cy­cles tack­led a Pro­logue stage, near Fes, and the timed ac­tion for the cars be­gan with two se­lec­tive sec­tions of 103.46km and 225.70km en route to the bivouac in Er­foud.

Al-At­tiyah over­came one punc­ture to clock the fastest time and snatch a 2min 39sec ad­van­tage over French­man Matthieu Ser­radori in the over­all rank­ings. De Villiers gave Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing a sec­ond place on the podium with the third fastest time, al­beit 3min 14sec adrift of al-At­tiyah.

Alonso clipped a stone af­ter the third pas­sage control and lost over 20 min­utes be­fore fin­ish­ing the stage at a slow pace in 21st po­si­tion with a to­tal time loss of 45 min­utes.

Ten Brinke was a solid fifth and Van Loon was the fastest of the four Over­drive Rac­ing cars in sev­enth.

Al-Ra­jhi fin­ished the stage in 10th. Al-At­tiyah said: “It was a hard day and tricky from the be­gin­ning with 100km of moun­tains.

The last sec­tion was more open desert with a lot of rivers.

We had one flat tyre, but I am quite happy to have this per­for­mance and to be win­ning the stage.”

Al-At­tiyah was again the man on form and the Qatari beat last year’s FIA World Cup win­ner Jakub Przy­gon­ski by 11min 09sec and ti­tle ri­val Peter­hansel by 12min 32sec.

De Villiers reached the fin­ish in fourth place and moved up to sec­ond in the over­all clas­si­fi­ca­tion, 17min 09sec be­hind Al-At­tiyah, while Alonso was 10th fastest, de­spite a lowly start­ing or­der and hav­ing to bat­tle through the dust. Ten Brinke and Van Loon were sixth and eighth, but Khoroshavt­sev and Al-Ra­jhi lost time in 19th and 20th. Al-At­tiyah said: “We didn’t make any nav­i­ga­tional mis­takes and I was re­ally push­ing be­cause we need to see where we are.” Al-At­tiyah re­gained the ad­van­tage on the last sec­tion but Sainz even­tu­ally won the stage by 29 sec­onds when the route was later short­ened by event Stew­ards be­cause of a GPS is­sue.

Al-At­tiyah’s over­all lead over De Villiers was 17min 21sec with the South African fourth on the day’s stage.

FIA World Cup for Cross-Coun­try Ral­lies – stand­ings af­ter round 4 (un­of­fi­cial):

1. Stéphane Peter­hansel (FRA) 61pts

2. Nasser Saleh al-At­tiyah (QAT) 60pts

3. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) 37pts

4. Yazeed al-Ra­jhi (SAU) 35pts

5. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) 30pts

6. Jakub Przy­gon­ski (POL) 28pts

Nasser Saleh al-At­tiyah (also in­set) in ac­tion in the Rally of Morocco, the fi­nal round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Coun­try Ral­lies, which con­cluded yes­ter­day.

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