• 29ª Baja Portalegre 500


    22 a 24 de Outubro de 2015
  • Baja TT Idanha-a-Nova


    11 e 12 de Setembro de 2015
  • Baja TT Proença / Mação / Oleiros


    20 e 21 de Junho de 2015
  • Baja Cidade Europeia do Desporto


    30 e 21 de Maio de 2015
  • Rali TT Vinhos Carmim


    1 e 2 de Maio de 2015
  • Baja TT Rota do Douro


    27 e 28 de Março

domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

Nuno Matos encerra experiência africana com 4º lugar

Opel Mokka Proto “Made in Portugal” com dois pódios 

Após sete dias e muitos milhares de quilómetros disputados ao cronómetro terminou hoje na cidade portuária de Saidia mais uma edição do Marocco Desert Challenge, a prova escolhida pelo campeão nacional Nuno Matos para iniciar um novo rumo na sua carreira, depois do título brilhantemente conquistado em 2016.

 Numa prova em que o objetivo não podia ser outro que o da aprendizagem, face à total ausência de experiência neste tipo de percursos, o certo é que mesmo assim a dupla Nuno Matos / Nuno Rodrigues da Silva, que tiveram ao seu dispor o mesmo Opel Mokka que na Baja de Portalegre de 2016 deu o título a Nuno Matos, se mostraram ao melhor nível tendo conseguido dois segundos lugares e uma quarta posição. Resultados conseguidos frente a uma vasta quantidade de equipas muitas delas com máquinas de elevado potencial.

  “Estou extremamente satisfeito. Aquilo que era o principal objetivo que era ganhar experiência e cumprir todo o percurso foi claramente cumprido. Trouxemos o nosso carro até ao fim e vieram muitas pessoas darem-nos os parabéns pela nossa prestação. Espero que da próxima vez para além de uns bons resultados nas etapas me possa juntar à Elisabete e ao Pedro numa boa classificação final, acredito sinceramente que sim. Não sei se foi a primeira de muitas, seja como for gostava de regressar. São provas que tem de ser encaradas de uma maneira uma pouco diferente das que fazemos em Portugal, mas face aos resultados que tivemos creio que temos potencial para isso” explicou Nuno Matos no final de uma corrida onde é importante referir o facto de “termos utilizado, em confronto direto com algumas das melhores máquinas do mercado de competição em TT, um veículo concebido e construído em Portugal e que tem vindo a ser desenvolvido por pessoas portuguesas”. 

Esta noite terá lugar a distribuição de prémios num hotel de 5 estrelas em Saïdia, uma baía do Mediterrâneo com praias longas de areia branca.

Nota de Roadbook trai Pedro Bianchi Prata

Piloto da Honda chegou a estar virtualmente no comando do rali 

Depois de duas vitórias consecutivas, a segunda das quais com o handicap de abrir a pista, Pedro Bianchi Prata partiu hoje para a penúltima etapa absolutamente focado em reduzir ou mesmo anular os 13m19s que o separavam do líder da prova.

 Com enorme determinação atacou de forma absolutamente eficaz durante quase 400 quilómetros onde abriu a pista ganhando progressivamente vantagem de tal forma que o colocava virtualmente no comando do rali, já que chegou a ter mais de 13 minutos de vantagem para Harite Gabari. Infelizmente acabou por ser traído por uma nota de Roadbook como aqui explica: “Ataquei desde o inicio, nunca baixei os braços e ao km 210 no abastecimento já tinha 13 minutos de avanço. Continuei ao ataque pois estava decidido a aumentar a vantagem, mas ao km 368 não consegui encontrar o caminho correto e o Harite apanhou-me, perdi muito tempo pois a imagem do roadbook não estava precisa. Foi o único erro nos 420 km de especial mas que me custou muito caro. É espetacular ir a abrir toda a especial e escolher as nossas próprias linhas. Ainda faltam 178km e o rally só acaba no parque fechado, não vou baixar os braços. Obrigado a todos que me fazem acreditar e que acreditam em mim”, referiu Pedro Bianchi Prata à chegada de uma especial onde foi 2º classificado e mante a 2ª posição da classificação geral.

 Amanhã disputa-se a sétima e derradeira etapa desta competição africana que, ao longo de 178km ligará Tendrara a Oujda, uma especial como habitualmente mais curta, mas que poderá ser decisiva na classificação final. Pistas rápidas que vão alternar com passagens de montanhas, campos, oueds que exigem total concentração e uma navegação irrepreensível.

De regresso ao pódio: Nuno Matos em 2º lugar

Penúltima etapa fantástica para dupla do Opel Mokka 

Depois de, no arranque deste Marocco Desert Challenge, a dupla Nuno Matos / Nuno Rodrigues da Silva se ter estreado em África com um 2º lugar na etapa inaugural, ei-los de novo na 2º posição num dia em que, partindo de trás, foram obrigados a muitas, mesmo muitas ultrapassagens.

 Cumprindo os 405 quilómetros de setor seletivo em 6 horas mais 1m01s, terminaram entre a Toyota Overdrive do belga Erwin Imschoot e a Ford Ranger da equipa South Racing pilotada pelo checo Tomas Ouredniek, duas formações que partiram das primeiras posições e portante sem necessidade de efetuar as ultrapassagens que teve a dupla do Opel Mokka Proto.

 O traçado que ligou Merzouga a Tendrara e que cruzou as planícies de Hamada e o planalto de Rekkam encantou o atual campeão nacional de todo-o-terreno: “A especial foi absolutamente fantástica, muitíssimo rápida com exceção de uns 50 quilómetros finais praticamente de trial. Passamos muita gente, alguns com mais facilidade outros com menos, mas a especial foi fantástica, diverti-me outra vez muitíssimo. Para já o que me apetece dizer é que estou absolutamente cliente destas corridas” salientou à chegada Nuno Matos, num dia grande para os portugueses em prova, todos eles no pódio das respetivas categorias.

 Amanhã disputa-se a sétima e derradeira etapa desta competição africana que, ao longo de 178km ligará Tendrara a Oujda, uma especial como habitualmente mais curta, mas que poderá ser decisiva na classificação final. Pistas rápidas que vão alternar com passagens de montanhas, campos, oueds que exigem total concentração e uma navegação irrepreensível.

2017 QCCR: Kuba Przygonski and his MINI ALL4 Racing Rang finish second


· Abu Issa takes his MINI ALL4 Racing to fifth place 

· FIA World Cup trip across the Arabian Peninsula is over

 Together with his Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul, Poland’s Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski celebrated the best result since he switched from motorbike to car racing in 2015. In the MINI ALL4 Racing, he won two stages and secured the second place in the overall standings behind Nasser Al-Attiyah. Meanwhile, Mohamed Abu Issa (QAT) and Xavier Panseri (FRA) secured fifth position in the rally, just 12 seconds behind the fourth-placed pairing. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) and Timo Gottschalk (GER), however, had to cope with a major dose of bad luck, in their MINI John Cooper Works Rally, and couldn’t finish the rally.

In Qatar Przygonski confirmed the good performances he had convinced with in January in the Dakar. The young Pole won the second and the final stage, thus making it to the second step on the podium. “A great rally for us,” beamed Przygonski. “We pushed right from the start. The navigation was difficult but Tom did a really great job. The MINI also once again ran flawlessly. It was a tough battle up to the final stage. So, we really went for it in the final stage und succeeded in securing second position. Really amazing: we raced for more than 10 hours and in the end, our lead over Poulter in third position amounted to just 28 seconds.”

 Abu Issa and Panseri made it to the top five in four of the five special stages. Only in the Super Special stage at the beginning of the event they had to settle for finishing seventh. Unfortunately, the young driver from Qatar wasn’t exactly lucky: at the end of the day, he was 12 seconds slower than the fourth-placed pairing and finished fifth. To date, Abu Issa had secured to third places in World Cup rounds. “It goes without saying that I’m not happy with having finished fifth. We could have secured second or third place. Without the tyre damages and the navigation mistakes we would be further up in the rankings. We delivered in good style but we just had too much bad luck. In my home race I really would have loved to make it to the podium,” admitted Abu Issa.” Al-Rajhi and Gottschalk couldn’t finish one of the final three special stages. In addition to technical problems, the pairing also was hampered by tyre damages.

 Following the three events on the Arabian Peninsula (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar), the FIA World Cup will make a one-month break. The fifth round on the calendar is the Rally Kazakhstan from 20th to 27th May, 2017.

 Qatar Cross Country Rally 2017 Gesamtergebnis nach SS5:

1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota – 13h 48m 09s
2. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing – 13h 55m 11s
3. L. Poulter (ZAF) / D. Von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota – 13h 55m 39s
... 5. M. Abu Issa (QAT) / X. Panseri (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 14h 02m 53s

sábado, 22 de abril de 2017

Elisabete Jacinto vence sexta etapa

Elisabete Jacinto venceu a sexta e penúltima etapa do Morocco Desert Challenge que se disputou hoje entre Merzouga e Tendrara. A equipa Bio-Ritmo® foi a mais rápida entre os T4 a realizar esta especial composta por 405 quilómetros cronometrados, a mais longa de toda esta competição, e demorou 5h53m11s a cumprir todo o setor selectivo. Os portugueses terminaram com uma vantagem de nove minutos para o holandês Martin Van Den Brink, o actual líder da classe camião, e apenas um carro conseguiu ser mais rápido do que Elisabete Jacinto a completar o percurso de hoje incluindo neste rol a competição destinada às motas.

 A formação lusa, composta por Elisabete Jacinto, José Marques e Marco Cochinho reforçou, desta forma, a sua posição à geral mantendo o terceiro lugar dos camiões com uma sólida vantagem de mais de quatro horas para o belga Igor Bouwens que, aos comandos de um IVECO, ocupa neste momento o quarto posto da classe.

 Elisabete Jacinto, que soma a sua segunda vitória em etapas neste rali, foi o piloto mais rápido entre os portugueses presentes nesta prova e faz um balanço positivo deste dia: “foi uma etapa muito bonita feita nos planaltos marroquinos. Hoje as pistas eram lisinhas e como não tinham muitos buracos e valas pudemos andar bastante rápido. Hoje saímos em quinto e fomos acelerando o mais possível até que começámos a apanhar os camiões que partiram à nossa frente. A navegação era complicada, mas o Zé Marques nunca se enganou e viemos sempre certinhos até ao fim. Foi um dia excelente. Estamos mesmo muito contentes com esta vitória”, contou Elisabete Jacinto no final da especial.

 Chega amanhã ao fim esta edição do Morocco Desert Challenge. A sétima e última etapa desta prova africana será disputada entre Tendrara e Oujda e será composta por 178 quilómetros cronometrados. Esta especial será mais curta, mas não será mais fácil. Haverá uma grande variedade de percursos que vão alternar entre pistas rápidas, onde os concorrentes poderão acelerar sem qualquer tipo de risco, e trilhos mais lentos com muita pedra, buracos e valas profundas. Apesar de curta, esta especial vai exigir total concentração e uma navegação perfeita.

AL-ATTIYAH, SUNDERLAND AND SONIK CLINCH VICTORIES AT THE QATAR CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY

· Second-placed finishes for Jakub Przygonski, Paulo Gonçalves and Alexis Hernandez 

· Final stage wins for Poland’s Przygonski, Chile’s Quintanilla and Peru’s Hernandez

 Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah , Dubai-based Sam Sunderland and Poland’s Rafal Sonik claimed outright victories in the car, motorcycle and quad categories after a gruelling five-day Qatar Cross-Country Rally drew to its conclusion at Losail on Saturday. Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel began the final day with a lead of 5min 58sec over South Africa’s Leeroy Poulter and the Qatari pushed hard from the outset to catch the South African. The two Toyota Hilux drivers reached the finish in first and third overall, Poulter’s position belying the fact that he had never before competed in the Middle East and even though he got stuck in the last dunes on a lump of camel grass and missed out on second.

 The final stage of 343.32kmtarted near the fort at Al-Zubara on Qatar’s north-west coast and headed down the west of the country before turning inland to finish on Sealine beach, south of Doha, after a series of dune crossings near the end. Victories on the last stage fell to Poland’s Jakub Przygonski, Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla and Peru’s Alexis Hernandez in the car, bike and quad sections.

  “Today we tried to take care,” said Al-Attiyah. “We had a few problems. We try to fix and continue and then, in the last part, in the dunes, we have a puncture and we don’t have the jack working. We put the car on a small hill and we change it and it takes around four minutes. After that, we did good navigation and we catch everybody. It was important to win here. Everybody had some small problems today but this is a good result for my championship and it’s always nice to win at home.”

 Przygonski and Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi battled hard for the final podium position. The Emirati began the day trailing by 1min 53sec in his Peugeot 3008 DKR and Przygonski pulled clear and eventually overhauled Poulter by 28 seconds to snatch second place, with Al-Qassimi nearly slipping behind Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa over the closing kilometres after losing his way. The Peugeot driver maintains his lead in the FIA World Cup championship standings, but doesn’t yet have a programme of events in place to continue the season.

 Al-Qassimi said: “I was struggling. I lost around 10 minutes today, yesterday maybe five and so on. It’s just very difficult navigation here, especially when I am new in this game. You keep hoping someone will pass and you can follow. I am still learning this game. You need to know a lot of detailed, tough navigation. I got lost today. I’m not sure yet about the rest of the season. I will go away and think about it, because I also have WRC commitments.”

 Sam Sunderland, the winner of this year’s Dakar Rally and Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, completed an emphatic hat-trick of victories by staying out of trouble over the final stage to with the Qatari event for the second time. His winning margin was 7min 42sec on a Red Bull KTM 450 Rally. The

Dubai-based Briton was first on the road this morning and benefited from a canny five-day strategy to confirm the win. Monster Energy Honda team rider Paulo Gonçalves was second and Sunderland’s KTM colleague Matthias Walkner of Austria rounded off the podium places, despite a late push by last stage winner Pablo Quintanilla of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Team. Ride to Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi reached the finish in Losail in eighth place.

  “It’s been a good race and it’s been as tough as always here in Qatar with the navigation,” said Sunderland. “I felt good and the bike was perfect and the team did a great job. We have a bit of a break now before the next one, Atacama, so I have time to recharge the batteries and refocus after three rallies in just over a month.”

 Rafal Sonik survived a fourth stage suspension arm breakage to clinch a comfortable victory in the quad category. Making up for his disappointing run in Abu Dhabi recently, the Pole duly confirmed his fourth win in Qatar and his first on a Yamaha.

 Peru’s Alexis Hernandez recovered from a 40-minute time penalty, road book scrolling issues and a heavy landing in a hole on Friday to clinch the runner-up spot from Dutch rider and former CEO of Booking.com, Kees Koolen. Guatemala’s Rodolfo Schippers was fourth and Italy’s female rider Camelia Liparoti was fifth.

 Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Saiedan extended his lead in the FIA T2 championship with victory in the section for series production cross-country vehicles. He and French navigator Laurent Lichtleuchter finished 1hr 13min 44sec in front of Abu Dhabi Racing’s Mansour Al-Helai, who lost time on Friday with suspension issues.

 Adel Abdulla set several fastest times in his QMMF and Ooredoo-backed Nissan Patrol, but the Qatari incurred massive time penalties after a troubled second desert stage in the sand dunes, south of Sealine. Ahmed Al-Shegawi, Mohammed Al-Harqan and Ahmed Al-Malki rounded off the top five.

  “We had bad luck again today and that has cost me a potential stage win,” said Adel Abdulla. “I have lost points again, but the championship still has a long way to go and we have a new cross-country rally coming up next month in Kazakhstan where I can get my challenge back on track.” 

Frenchman Claude Fournier was the sole entrant in the FIA T3 section and reached the finish with navigator Loic Minaudier in a Polaris RZR 1000.

Saturday – as it happened

 Sunderland led the riders into the last of the desert stages that started near the Al-Zubara fort and finished close to the former bivouac at Sealine after 343.32km. The stage featured four passage controls at 132.69km, 168.62km, 183.91km and 238.91km. The Briton held a lead of 12min 34sec over Gonçalves.

 Al-Attiyah began the final day with a larger lead than he may have anticipated. He had ‘lost’ 3min 02sec trying to find a waypoint on Thursday after a GPS issue and race officials agreed to hand back 3min 02sec of time to the Qatari overnight. That meant that Al-Attiyah headed out into the desert with a cushion of 5min 58sec over Poulter.

 Sunderland managed to stay well clear of his rivals to PC1, even though Quintanilla carded the quickest split time through the first two PCs and maintained his stage lead through the remainder of the special to card his first stage win of the week. Gonçalves did enough to hold on to second overall, but the 5th quickest time was enough for Sunderland to claim victory.

 With a slightly larger cushion in hand, Al-Attiyah’s goal was to catch Poulter and follow the South African to the finish. The pair were closely matched through the first two checkpoints and Przygonski managed to pull clear of Al-Qassimi to secure third place and snatched second from Poulter near the finish.

 Yazeed Al-Rajhi rejoined the action after a drive shaft failure on Friday and was fourth quickest through PC1 before withdrawing his Mini John Cooper Works Rally.

 2017 Qatar Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS5 (unofficial @ 15.10hrs)

Cars
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 13hr 48min 09sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 55min 11sec
3. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux 13hr 55min 39sec
4. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR 14hr 02min 41sec
5. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 14hr 02min 53sec
6. Erik Van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 15hr 00min 49sec
7. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 15hr 49min 39sec
8. Jürgen Schröder (DEU)/Maximilian Schöder (DEU) Nissan Navara 16hr 04min 07sec
 9. Aron Domzala (POL)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 16hr 11min 18sec
10. Mohammed Al-Mannai (QAT)/Kamal Khoder (QAT) Chevrolet Buggy 17hr 22min 06ec
11. Yasir Saiedan (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser T2 17hr 37min 00sec 

Bikes
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally 15hr 50min 18sec
2. Paolo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda 450 CRF Rally 15hr 58min 00sec
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally 16hr 03min 29sec
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) Husqvarna 450 Rally 16hr 05min 20sec
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda 450 CRF Rally 16hr 08min 06sec
6. Pierre Alexander Renet (FRA) Husqvarna 450 Rally 16hr 10min 19sec
7. Antoine Meo (FRA) KTM 450 Rally 18hr 07min 43sec
8. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica 19hr 24min 54sec

 Quads
1. Rafal Sonik (POL) Yamaha YFM 700 R 21hr 20min 19sec
2. Alexis Hernandez (PER) Yamaha Raptor 700R 22hr 04min 06sec
3. Kees Koolen (NLD) Barren Racer One 690 22hr 16min 50sec
4. Rodolfo Schippers (GUA) Yamaha Raptor 700R 24hr 26min 35sec
5. Camelia Liparoti (ITA) Yamaha Raptor 700 R 55hr 35min 00sec

Monster Energy Honda Team finishes second in the Qatar Rally

The fifth and final day of the Qatar Rally – the second round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – has concluded with Paulo Gonçalves in runner-up position. Kevin Benavides likewise placed among rally’s elite with a fifth overall position.

 Monster Energy Honda Team close one of the toughest dates in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies calendar after a noteworthy performance. The overall victory might have evaded the team, but a high-level, hitch-free display and reliable bike performance mean the squad comes home with a more than positive scorecard.

 The fourth special disputed on the final fifth stage today linked the north-eastern and south-eastern areas of the Qatari peninsula with a total of 343 kilometres against the clock. The day got off to a start over rocky terrain before finishing in the dunes of the Sealine seafront area.

 Argentinean Kevin Benavides started the proceedings in second position on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, determined to thwart the attack of the pursuing pack. The group, with the advantage of being able to follow his tracks and make up time, were however, unable to catch him. Kevin conceded less than six minutes to the stage winner Pablo Quintanilla.

 For Paulo Gonçalves, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Portuguese rider, the day was all about consolidating his second overall position. Paulo got off to a brisk start and held a swift pace throughout, eating five minutes into the time of the race’s eventual overall winner Sam Sunderland. The runner-up spot in Qatar has elevated Gonçalves up to third place in the championship standings, while Benavides leaps from fifteenth to ninth.

 Next date for the Monster Energy Honda Team in the world championship will be the Atacama Rally, the third event, in Chile, from 12th to 18th August.

OVERDRIVE RACING AND AL-ATTIYAH RETURN TO WINNING WAYS AT QATAR CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY

· Impressive Leeroy Poulter finishes third on Qatar debut in Toyota GAZOO car 

· Sixth and ninth for Dutchman Erik Van Loon and Poland’s Aron Domzala 

Overdrive Racing and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah returned to winning ways to claim a hard-earned victory in the Qatar Cross-Country Rally, round four of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which finished at Losail on Saturday.

 After leading on day one, Al-Attiyah and Baumel hit technical trouble on the second of five stages and were forced to climb back from sixth place. The Toyota Hilux crew ran without making any major mistakes through the final desert section to reach the finish 7min 02sec in front of Poland’s Jakub Przygonski.

  “Today we tried to take care,” said Al-Attiyah. “We had a few problems. We try to fix and continue and then, in the last part, in the dunes, we have a puncture and we don’t have the jack working. We put the car on a small hill and we change it and it takes around four minutes. After that, we did good navigation and we catch everybody. It was important to win here. Everybody had some small problems today but this is a good result for my championship and it’s always nice to win at home.” 

Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa’s Leeroy Poulter has never competed in the Middle East before. He and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz produced an impressive display to finish third and just missed out on second place on an event that featured difficult navigation and varied desert terrain held in extremely windy conditions and inclement temperatures.

  “We had a good day and it’s capped a great week to be honest,” said Poulter. “We opened the road all day on the last stage. That was quite tough. In the dunes at the end we reversed back in one place and got stuck on some camel grass. It cost us a couple of minutes but, all in all, it was good. Dirk and I are working together for the first time and that worked well.” 

The Dutch crew of Erik Van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar produced another solid performance in the second of the Overdrive Racing cars to finish sixth overall, despite a series of flat tyres Aron Domzala and Szymon Gospodarczyk bounced back from their recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge disappointment to reach Losail in ninth, although the crew struggled at times with the navigation and lost a lot of time.

  “We did not start so well with a small problem for Nasser on the first day,” said Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin. “But I thank the team because we made a great recovery. It is not easy to discover new stages yesterday and today. Matthieu (Baumel) was cautious and taking it easy. But we are back in the game with 60 points. 

 “I guess the disappointment of the day was Leeroy (Poulter) losing second place in the dunes at the end. He was comfortable opening the road today, but he got stuck 30km from the finish and that was not quite enough. He did a very good rally and he has made a great recovery from the surgery he had six months ago. He and Dirk did very well. 

 “Erik (Van Loon) suffered a series of flat tyres and we need to analyse this, but he is on his place in sixth. Aron (Domzala) is still learning and lost a lot of time on the rally and that explains why he is so far behind.”

 The Overdrive Racing quartet made a strong start to the event through the confines of a 4.85km super special stage at Losail. Al-Attiyah led the way with a 7.9-second lead over Yazeed Al-Rajhi, but Poulter was an impressive third on his first taste of Qatar competition and Domzala and Van Loon were tied in fifth.

 The starting order lottery meant that Poulter began the first of the desert stages of 334.08km from second on the road and Van Loon, Domzala and Al-Attiyah were sixth, ninth and 10th.

 Al-Attiyah started strongly and led the field through the first two passage controls, but he sustained broken power steering soon 190km from the end and was then forced to finish the stage in third gear after the gear lever broke. The Qatari slipped to sixth place, but Van Loon and Poulter enjoyed an excellent day, despite the tricky navigation, and were classified in fourth and fifth overall. Domzala held 12th overall.

 The Overdrive Racing mechanics repaired Al-Attiyah’s damaged Hilux overnight and the Qatari repaid them with a stunning performance through the second of the desert stages of 353.08km from Sealine to a finish at Mekaines. The defending champion soon closed in on Yazeed Al-Rajhi and, when the Saudi damaged his car and retired, it opened the door for Al-Attiyah to cruise through to take the stage win and move back into an outright lead of 3min 23.7sec over his equally impressive team-mate Poulter.

 The South African recorded the fourth fastest time to hold second place, while Van Loon and Domzala were sixth and seventh and were classified in sixth and eighth overall.

 Al-Attiyah opened the road through the third desert stage from a start off the Dukhan highway to a finish at the Al-Shamal stadium in the north of the country. He opted not to push too hard to try and bunch his rivals up as part of his strategy to defend his title and was quite happy to be caught by his rivals and finish the stage in third position.

  “Yes, it’s close but we did not take any risks,” said Al-Attiyah. “We open all the way and we stop for Khalid (Al-Qassimi) to pass. He does not want to pass. I don’t know why. After the second time, he never gave me the Sentinel. I stopped to let him pass. We decided to continue to bring everyone together for our strategy.”

One of those rivals was team-mate Poulter and another impressive stage performance by the South African pushed him to within 2min 56sec of the Qatari heading into the final 343.61km. Van Loon and Domzala were sixth and 13th on the day and held sixth and eighth in the general classification. 

Al-Attiyah was handed 3min 02sec back by race officials before the event restarted, because of a GPS issue, and the Qatari shadowed Poulter to the finish defending a lead of 5min 58sec. He reached the finish with a winning advantage of 7min 02sec, although Poulter missed out on second by just 28 seconds after his episode in the dunes.

  Qatar Cross-Country Rally – results (unofficial):

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 13hr 48min 09sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 55min 11sec
3. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux 13hr 55min 39sec
4. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR 14hr 02min 41sec
5. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 14hr 02min 53sec
6. Erik Van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 15hr 00min 49sec
7. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 15hr 49min 39sec
8. Jürgen Schröder (DEU)/Maximilian Schöder (DEU) Nissan Navara 16hr 04min 07sec
9. Aron Domzala (POL)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 16hr 11min 18sec
10. Mohammed Al-Mannai (QAT)/Kamal Khoder (QAT) Chevrolet Buggy 17hr 22min 06sec