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Al Attiyah takes a small lead in Qatar Rally

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Bengaluru/Doha, February 23: Home hero Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and French navigator edged into a lead of 3min 05sec at the Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally, the opening round of FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, after the short opening loop section of 109.76km through the central Qatar deserts.

The short opened did not feature any passage controls or decidedly tricky navigation and the five-time event winner was comfortable at the wheel of his Toyota Hilux on the way to the fastest time of 52min 40sec.

Al-Attiyah, the three-time Dakar Rally winner said: "For a short stage, to have a lead of 3min 05sec is very good. Tomorrow will be a long stage. I am quite happy. It was a little bit tricky today with the navigation but we did not have any mistakes."

Przygonski starts it

Przygonski starts it

Poland's Jakub Przygonski opened the day's proceedings on the short loop with new navigator Timo Gottschalk in the first of two MINI John Cooper Works Rally derivatives on a timed test that started 66.34km from the Lusail Sports Arena at the village of Al Kharsaah.

The Pole continued to run first on the road, although Al Attiyah overtook Russia's Vladimir Vasilyev (fifth overall) and began to close in on the MINI as the stage progressed, before overtaking the Pole near the end of the special that also finished close to Al Kharsaah.

T3 challenge

T3 challenge

Mohammed Al Attiyah and Uruguayan navigator Sergio Lafuente topped the times in the T3 category in their Can-Am Maverick X3.

The Qatari finished just under a minute in front of the Brazilian Monster Energy Can-Am duo of Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin.

Complicated day

Complicated day

Qatar's Adel Abdulla drove his T3 Can-Am Maverick 3 for the first time with new Spanish navigator Marc Serra and held third in T3.

He said: "It was complicated today. My start position was not perfect. When the drivers in T1s behind catch you, you are always looking in the mirror and not pushing. Then they pass and you need to slow down. So two cars pass and you lose, maybe two minutes, and you are in the dust. The communication between us was okay. You are outside completely in the T3 and the nose of the car is very short."

Punishing stage

Punishing stage

On the second day, crews tackle a punishing 323.58km selective section across some of the most remote areas of the country.

The stage gets underway at 08.45hrs after a road liaison of 69.14km from Lusail Sports Arena. A second road section of 77.15km returns teams to the service park in the early afternoon.

 
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Story first published: Saturday, February 23, 2019, 13:10 [IST]
Other articles published on Feb 23, 2019
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