2016 SCCR Highlights 52' CARS

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Dubai-based English rider Sam Sunderland and Chile’s Ignacio Casale will take outright leads of 13min 58sec, 18min 45sec and 7min 57sec in their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories into the final 350.94km selective section of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally on Friday morning. Driving a Toyota Hilux Overdrive, Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel controlled their pace perfectly on a fourth successive demanding stage across the remote dunescapes and rocky tracks of the State of Qatar. They won yet another stage and will take a comfortable lead over the X-raid Mini All4 Racing crew of Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk into the final day. “I’m happy. We try to do our best every day and control the race,” said Al-Attiyah. “If we have to push, we push, but, if we don’t, we take it easy. I enjoyed the last part in the dunes. I was really pushing and we make a good time there. I will do my pace as normal tomorrow. One time only we stopped to find the road, but nothing serious.” Punctures and a navigational issue cost Al-Rajhi dearly. “We were unlucky to be honest. We were lost before PC1 for maybe one and a half minutes where we crossed the tarmac. Then we attacked like hell and we took back the time and were leading by around 20 seconds. Then, I had two punctures and I thought that if I had another one, I would be stopped in the stage for no reason. So we decided to finish the stage slowly.” The motorcycle contest was all but settled in Sunderland’s favour when Chilean rival Pablo Quintanilla made a howling navigational error close to the start and lost well over 25 minutes, having started the day tied to the second with his KTM rival. The Husqvarna rider did manage to claw back some of that time over the rest of the stage, but Sunderland will take a massive lead into Friday’s finale. “I arrived at one point and I could not see any tracks in front of me in the sand from Pablo, so I figured that he’d made a mistake and I thought to myself, just keep going,” said Sunderland. “I didn’t think it was as big a mistake as it was. At the refuel, the guys said he’d made a mistake. My time was good and I had to capitalise as much as I could. I pushed a lot trying to make as few mistakes as possible. The road book is so tricky here. We have to stay focused. Anything can happen. This race is brutal. It’s really physical and if you hit one stone it’s the end of your day.” A visibly disappointed Quintanilla said: “I did a mistake and lost many time. These things can happen when you are in front and you are trying to go fast. The road book in this place was confusing with the change of caps. I lose the way. Now I must think about the championship. This is only the second round and the points are valuable.” Ignacio Casale started the day with a comfortable lead over Rafal Sonik in the quad duel, but the Pole was in determined mood from the outset and he soon made in-roads into that advantage. His Yamaha rival made some of that time back as the stage progressed and heads into day five in a strong position to shadow the stage-winning Pole to the finish and claim a debut victory in Qatar. Behind Al-Rajhi, G-Energy Team Mini driver Vladimir Vasilyev is a distant third and Kazakh Yuriy Sazonov climbed to fourth overall after Portugal’s Ricardo Porém lost time and slipped to fifth. Jutta Kleinschmidt continues to impress in sixth. Marek Dabrowski finished the day in seventh place and made good progress after rolling his Toyota Hilux Overdrive on the first of the dunes on Wednesday. Chile’s Hernan Garces is enjoying his first taste of Middle Eastern rallying and holds ninth in the DMAS South Racing Ford Ranger behind Yerdan Shagirov’s H3 Evolution V. Saudi’s Yasir Seaidan and French navigator Sébastien Delaunay took control of the T2 category for Series Production Cross-Country Vehicles when overnight leader Adel Hussein stopped his Nissan Middle East-supported Patrol just short of the second passage control with mechanical issues. The Qatari will hope to start the final day and collect valuable T2 points. It was a disastrous day for the two surviving female teams in the QMMF-backed Nissan Patrols. Kiwi Emma Gilmour lost a wheel and French girl Charlotte Berton ground to a halt further along the stage, although Berton continued to the finish into the afternoon and Gilmour headed directly for the bivouac.