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W2RC – Toyota’s Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk win first Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

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Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi rekindled his partnership with German co-driver Timo Gottschalk as the pair competed in the second round of the FIA ​​World Rally Championship (W2RC) at the six-day Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Win for the first time.

Al-Rajhi inherited the lead ahead of the start of the abbreviated penultimate stage, through the remote desert and towering dunes of the Emirates Empty Zone, where the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux driver kept his nerve and won by 12 minutes and 31 seconds. Veteran Czech driver Martin Prokop and his co-driver Viktor Chytka drive their Ford Raptor RS SUV.

Raj explain: “We are doing very well. We stay smart. This game is not easy. We had a small technical problem in the last 100km. Many good drivers have been in car accidents. It was difficult for me here before and I knew I had to be smart. Timo, me and the team had a great plan and we won the race. This is the most important. My first win in white space, dunes, dunes and more dunes. we are very happy. I am the first Saudi to win this game. “

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah retired from the absolute lead after being damaged in an accident on stage three, while Frenchman Sébastien Loeb received a substantial time penalty early in the race for an engine change, and Al-Rajhi’s win set the stage for the FIA ​​World Cup. Rally begins – Raid Championship (W2RC) Drivers Championship Open. Loeb (101) now leads Al-Attiyah (85) by 16, with Prokop (64) and Al-Rajhi (63) also in contention.

Behind FIA T3 champions Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz, who finished third overall (see T3 section), Overdrive Racing’s Juan Cruz Yacopini and Daniel Oliveras second in Toyotas and Argentina’s Sebastien Halpern and 4th in Bernando Graue X-raid JCW Rally Team 5th in the first Mini JCW Rally Plus prototype.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is in the UAE to visit the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, an event he conceived in 1991 and first featured in the FIA ​​World Cup in 1993 Off-road rally competition.

Speaking at the Qasr Al-Sarab Camp on the third day, Ben Sulayem explain: “It’s been a part of my life. Being the founder of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge when the challenge arose. Seeing what I’ve put my life into for 30 years means a lot to me. It’s not just about the event itself, it’s about the tournament ( W2RC) and I’m pushing with the team to make sure it keeps going. We have to take care of new babies!”

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel dominated the race for four days, winning the prologue and the opening three selection stages to easily build a 27:03 lead, but the Qatari was just short of the finish line A bad third stage crash on the 10km dunes severely damaged his Toyota.

The car landed on its wheels with damaged panels and a missing windscreen, but the Toyota also suffered roll cage damage and the five-time Dakar winner was unable to move on safety-wise. His death is a severe blow to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s efforts to retain the W2RC Manufacturers’ Championship.

Atiyah explain: “The last stretch before the finish, I think 10km, was a very fast section, no danger, nothing. Suddenly, we found a little spit in the wind and sand, it was in sixth gear, and we hit Three or four times. We landed on the wheel, there was nothing left in the car, everything was destroyed, but we finished the stage. The FIA ​​decided we couldn’t continue because something was broken on the roll cage. “

Already on the first desert stage, the Raid Xtreme operation in Bahrain dealt a major blow to the chances of winning the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles. The Prodrive Hunter of Sébastien Loeb and Belgian co-pilot Fabian Lurquin encountered cooling hose problems after just 39 kilometers on the stretch between the city of Al-Dhannah and Qasr Al-Sarab and the Frenchman was forced to wait for his rescuers.

To cap off a miserable day for the team, Guerlain Chicherit suffered from motion sickness in the rolling dunes and was forced to stop several times. As a result, he decided to take the second Hunter out of the race at the end of the day.

To make matters worse, the team was forced to replace Loeb’s engine overnight, and he, like Hanwei Racing’s Chinese driver Tian Po, received a 50-hour time penalty, plus a 15-minute time penalty for missing the Loeb recovered well enough to win stage four, with an extra stage point on the final day to put him ahead of Attiyah in the title race.The Frenchman was classified close to the back of the field on 34 pointsday.

loeb explain: “We finally finished. Some good points for the championship. It’s the best we could have hoped for (SS1) when we were unlucky. We just hoped we could still lead the table and we’ve extended our lead so we’re happy Happy.”

Dennis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov missed out on a potential third place as they retired their X-raid Mini JCW Rally Plus after an accident on the final stage .

Seth Quintero achieves T3 success

Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA driver Seth Quintero and German co-driver Dennis Zenz led the Lightweight Prototype T3 category from start to finish, setting the fastest times in the Prologue and Stages 1 and 4 to take the win 27 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of their Dakar Rally-winning teammates Austin Jones and Gustavo Gugelmin.

The performance also put the American on the podium and third in the overall standings, meaning he now leads the W2RC T3 drivers’ championship by six points.

The Buggyra ZM Racing team of Emirati Alliyah Koloc and Frenchman Stéphane Duple finished third overall, while Jean-Luc Ceccaldi/Cédric Duple (PH Sport Zephyr) and Claude Fournier/Szymon Gospodarczyk (Can-Am) rounded out the top five .

Mitch Guthrie and Kellon Walch won stages three and five in their Red Bull-backed T3M MCE-5, but early technical problems ruined the American duo’s good finish.

Saudi Arabia’s Dania Akeel tied for fourth with German co-driver Taye Perry before being disqualified for non-compliance with Can-Am’s turbo limiter.

Cristina Gutiérrez and Pablo Moreno Huete’s Red Bull Can-Am factory racing Maverick ran out of fuel early in the race and the Spaniard was later pulled out due to a technical issue When a penalty is imposed. A turbocharger problem meant they didn’t start the final stages.

Official Audi Sport driver Mattias Ekström is working with the South Racing team to gain more dune experience in Can-Am racing with co-driver Emil Bergkvist. After winning the prologue and running out of fuel on the first stage, the Swede was fastest in T3 on stage two before suffering engine problems on subsequent stages. He had the fastest overall time on SS4, only to receive a 50-hour penalty for replacing the engine block the night before.The Swedes finished 35thday After finishing second in the closing stages.

Defending world champion Baciuška wins T4

Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team driver Rokas Baciuška and his Spanish co-driver Oriol Vidal stormed to the top of the W2RC T4 standings after leading the FIA ​​T4 class from start to finish. The Lithuanian won the prologue as well as the first and third selection sections, sealing the victory with 12 minutes and 03 seconds. He also finished seventh in the overall W2RC ranking, leading the category by 48 points.

The main competitors for the event were locals Mansour Al-Helai and Mohammed Al-Hamri. Team UAE won the second, fourth and fifth stages to finish second. But they were not registered for the W2RC and the points for second place went to Spain’s Pau Navarro and France’s François Cazalet in third place in the FN Speed ​​Team Can-Am.

The Italian duo of Michele Cinotto and Maurizio Dominella received a 20-hour time penalty on the second stage before retiring after the fourth stage, while Japan’s Shinsuke Umeda teamed up with Argentina’s Facundo Jaton to finish second in their Polaris RZR Pro R Three, despite losing final stage time.

FIA World Rally Championship continues with Sonora Rally in Mexico on April 22nd-28day.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Final Rankings:

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive16 hours 28 minutes 06 seconds
2. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Viktor Chytka (CZE) Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country16 hours 40 minutes 37 seconds
3. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (Germany) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3)16 hours 58 minutes 31 seconds
4. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive17 hours 01 minutes 03 seconds
5. Sebastien Halpern (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus17 hours 02 minutes 35 seconds
6. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Ole Floene (NOR) Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus17 hours 17 minutes 30 seconds*
7. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4)17 hours 25 minutes 47 seconds
8. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (Brazil) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3)17 hours 26 minutes 16 seconds
9. Mansour Al-Helai (ARE)/Mohammed Al-Hamri (ARE) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4)17 hours 37 minutes 50 seconds*
10. Pau Navarro (ESP)/François Cazalet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4)17 hours 51 minutes 47 seconds
11. Hernan Garces (CHL)/Juan Pablo Latrach (CHL) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3)17 hours 54 minutes 59 seconds*
12. Wei Han (CHN)/Ma Li (CHN) SMG HW 2021 Buggy18 hours 09 minutes 34 seconds
* means not registered with W2RC
rally leader
Prologue – SS3Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS4-SS5Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Toyota)
stage winner
preludeNasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS1Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS2Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS3Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS4Sebastian Loeb (Prodrive Hunter)
SS5Henk Ratgen (Toyota)*
FIA T3 results:
1. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (Germany) Red Bull Off-Road Junior Can-Am Maverick X316 hours 58 minutes 31 seconds
2. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Red Bull Off-Road Junior Can-Am Maverick X317 hours 26 minutes 16 seconds
3. Hernan Garces (CHL)/Juan Pablo Latrach (CHL) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X317 hours 54 minutes 59 seconds*
4. Lionel Baud (FRA)/Lucie Baud (FRA) G Rally Team OT318 hours 26 minutes 29 seconds*
5. Aliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Stéphane Duple (France) Buggyra Can-Am DV2119 hours 20 minutes 09 seconds
* means not registered with W2RC
FIA T4 results:
1. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Red Bull Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo17 hours 25 minutes 47 seconds
2. Mansour Al-Helai (ARE)/Mohammed Al-Hamri (ARE) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo17 hours 37 minutes 50 seconds*
3. Pau Navarro (ESP)/François Cazalet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo17 hours 51 minutes 47 seconds
4. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo21 hours 39 minutes 07 seconds*
5. Enrico Gaspari (Italy)/Loic Minaudier (France) Polaris RZR Pro R23 hours 09 minutes 46 seconds*
* means not registered with W2RC
Final results and further information are available at fia.com and the W2RC website.

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