Qatar’s Al-Attiyah and Chile’s Casala extend Sealine lead as Price tops the motorcycles
The demanding 345.89km second selective section of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, between Al-Khararra and Sealine, belonged to Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and the Chilean duo of Jose Cornejo and Ignacio Casale Catracchia on Tuesday.
They won their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories, as Al-Attiyah and Casale Catracchia extended their outright leads and Australian Toby Price topped the motorcycle overall standings in the five-day desert round of both the FIA and FIM world championships.
Al-Attiyah and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel guided their Toyota Hilux Overdrive to a second successive stage win from the front of the field and have now established an overall lead of 7min 56sec over the Saudi Arabian Yazeed Al-Rajhi, driving the first of three Mini All4 Racings inside the top four. The pair were closely matched until the latter kilometres when Al-Rajhi lost time with a puncture and a navigational error.
“Tomorrow we start in the dunes and we can push a little but, after what happened today, we can control the race and can push more,” said Al-Attiyah. “Now the others have to catch us and they can make the mistake.”
Al-Rajhi was a little deflated after losing so much time late on: “Nasser was too much lucky today. I had a puncture and the car was sliding at the back for around 40km. I followed him and I see his dust. There were some stones and, with a slow puncture, I stopped. After that, before the finish around 20km, I see all the bikes lost. Timo (Gottschalk) said stay left. We went 3km and came back 4km. It was so frustrating.”
Price had to make his way to the front of the motorcycle stage by catching Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla and Dubai-based Briton Sam Sunderland. The trio rode together for long sections of the tricky special and Price somehow reached the finish with a lead of 38 seconds over Bolivia’s Juan Carlos Salvatierra in the overall standings.
All three front-runners got lost for a long time near the finish and frantic shenanigans trying to find the correct route played into Chilean rider Jose Cornejo’s hands perfectly and he tagged on the end of the group as they found the correct route and managed to claim an unlikely stage win after major delays on Monday. Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren set the second quickest time on his factory Yamaha. “Definitely not easy today,” said Price, who complained of a shooting back pain as he arrived in Losail. “The last 50 or so kilometres, we made a bit of a navigational error and got sidetracked. Other than that it was a decent day. We just have to regroup and look forward to tomorrow and try and minimise those mistakes. The error by Pablo, Sam and myself brings the others back into the race. The way it is situated, a couple of guys got in between me, Sam and Pablo, so that makes it more difficult for myself. I guess Pablo made the error, Sam followed and I was in two minds what to do. But they were on the gas and I followed. One of those things.”
Van Beveren said: “It was nice today. Yesterday I had some problem with the water and my bike stopped. It was really difficult navigation. We started in 11th place because of the result yesterday and it was easier for me. I took my time to avoid mistakes, but I did make some. I lost maybe 10 minutes at one point, but the other riders lose more than me. I also lost time at the same place as the leaders around km 308. I’m not here to win. I am here to learn a lot to win in the future.”
Casale Catracchia extended his advantage in the quad category to 14min 19sec after Poland’s Rafal Sonik endured a troubled second day in the Qatar deserts.
Vladimir Vasilyev climbed to third overall in the car category, despite three flat tyres. Mini colleague Ricardo Porém was fourth and Kazakh Yuriy Sazonov and Jutta Kleinschmidt rounded off the top six.
Local driver Adel Hussein Abdullah actually began the stage this morning second in the T2 category after the results were amended on Monday evening and Peru’s Raul Orlandini was promoted into the lead. But, when the Peruvian hit mechanical trouble early on the second stage, the Qatari became involved in a battle for the lead with Yasir Seidan. His Nissan Middle East-backed Patrol eventually claimed the outright lead and takes an advantage of 8min 46sec over the Saudi into day three. Michelle Cinotto stopped on the west of the route with technical issues and ceded the T3 lead to Petro Cinotto in another Polaris RZR 1000s
Day 2 – as it happened
When the results for day one were eventually finalised, there were no changes to the top eight in the car category, but Peruvian Raul Orlandini had edged into a T2 lead over Adel Hussein Abdullah and both Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Mannai and Kazakh driver Yerden Shagirov entered the top 10 at the start of the second selective section from Al-Kharrara and back to Sealine.
Thirty-two cars were given start times for day two, although Stefano Marrini’s Mitsubishi Pajero suffered a cracked cylinder head, leaked oil and the Italian was unable to continue. Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Rabban rejoined the fray after working until five in the morning to repair a gearbox bracket after a transmission issue on the first stage. But the clutch failed on the road section to the stage and he returned to Losail.
Charlotte Berton was running near the rear of the field in the third of the QMMF-backed prize drive Nissan Patrols. “It was a tricky first day for us,” said the French girl, who got stuck soon after the start of the second stage again. “Two punctures and when you are running at the back of the field and you get stuck, there is no-one there to help you. We lost 45 minutes.”
When the transponders were checked and a video image was examined, Quintanilla was eventually awarded the stage win by a second and started first on the road amongst the 14 surviving motorcycles and two quads. Predictably, Price’s starting position of third was advantageous and the Australian quickly reeled in both Quintanilla and Sunderland and the trio rode together. Laia Sanz fell and bruised her elbow after 177km, lost seventh place, damaged her works KTM and returned to Losail.
Al-Attiyah led the surviving cars into the special and began to edge away from Al-Rajhi over the early kilometres. But Al-Rajhi was feeling confident this morning and the Saudi hit back and closed to within three seconds of the Qatari after 96km.
Khalifa Al-Attiyah crashed his Toyota Hilux Overdrive close to the second passage control and retired. The car was airborn for around 50 metres before landing heavily and stopping instantly, according to Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin. Neither of the crew was injured.
Orlandini hit trouble with his Toyota and ceded the T2 advantage to Adel Hussein and Yasir Seidan and the duo continued to dominate T2 when Emil Khneisser’s Nissan stopped further into the stage. T3 front-runner Michelle Cinotto also stopped on the western section of the stage.
The leading motorcycle trio looked comfortable until they lost their way close to the finish for a long time and that enabled the chasing group to catch them and benefit from the mistake. The main beneficiary was Cornejo, who recorded the stage win from Van Beveren and Juan Carlos Salvatierra. Price came home in fourth.
Al-Attiyah became embroiled in a fascinating duel with Al-Rajhi and the pair shared fastest times at several of the check points until the Saudi lost time close to the finish and opened the door for the Qatari to extend his outright lead.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), is the longest stage of the event, at 355.49km, and starts close to the former bivouac at Sealine. The route then heads south towards the Inland Sea and the Saudi Arabian border area, before revisiting the western coastline and turning inland to a finish between Umm Qarn and Abu Nakhla.