Sealine Cross Country Rally 2015: prima tappa
Dopo due giorni di verifiche amministrative e tecniche al circuito Losail di Doha in Qatar ha preso il via stamattina la quarta edizione del Sealine Cross Country Rally, valido per la Coppa del Mondo FIA e per il Mondiale FIM. La prima tappa ha visto primeggiare i padroni di casa, Nasser Al Attiyah su Mini per le auto e Mohammed Abu Issa per i quad, mentre fra le moto successo di Marc Coma.
201,94 km la prova speciale di apertura della gara oggi, su un totale di 255 con gli ultimi 900 metri che dall'arrivo della ps hanno guidato i concorrenti al bivacco, allestito a sud di Doha. 32 vetture, 23 moto e 4 quad il totale dei piloti presenti.
Marc Coma su Ktm ha vinto la prima speciale battendo il suo avversario numero uno, Joan Barreda su Honda di sei secondi mentre Sam Sunderland, britannico di stanza a Dubai però ormai da anni, ha chiuso in terza posizione a 57" dal suo compagno di squadra in Ktm. Il primo a partire questa mattina fra le due ruote era stato il cileno Jeremias Israel (Honda) ed è stato in gradodi aprire la strada, per oltre 190 chilometri stando sempre davanti. Dietro di lui era partito Jordi Viladoms su Ktm (entrambi non erano presenti ad Abu Dhabi) mentre Barreda aveva preso il via dall'ottava posizione e Marc Coma dalla 13. Ovviamente chi partiva per primo ha subito oggi i distacchi dei piloti che partivano più indietro e per questo Viladoms ha chiuso in settima posizione e Israel in nona.
Fra le auto il primo a partire stamattina è stato il vincitore della Coppa del Mondo FIA 2014, e cioè il russo Vladimir Vasilyev su Mini seguito da altre tre Mini X Raid, nell'ordine quella di Van Loon, Hunt e Nasser Al Attiyah. A vincere la prima tappa è stato il padrone di casa, Al Attiyah che si è imposto per 1h.51'59" battendo il pilota dell'Arabia Saudita che corre con la Toyota Overdrive, Al Rajhi (arrivato al bivacco con una gomma sgonfia) di quasi 4'. Un bel biglietto da visita dunque,che la dice lunga, come già pronosticato, su quelli che saranno i protagonisti di questa bella gara nei deserti del Qatar.
A sorpresa all'ultimo momento fra i partenti si è inserito anche Nani Roma, su Mini naturalmente, al cui fianco X Raid ha messo Alex Haro che ha sostituito Michel Perin, che poche settimane fa ha preso la decisione di ritirarsi dealle gare, almeno come copilota. Roma partito sesto stamattina ha chiuso in quinta posizione a dieci minuti dal leader.
Domani la tappa, ad anello visto che si parte e si torna sempre allo stesso bivacco, si aprirà con un trasferimento di poco meno di 72 chillometri che lascerà poi il posto alla speciale di 398,88 km.
SEALINE (Qatar): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Spain’s Marc Coma and Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa edged into early advantages in their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories after the opening 201.94km selective section of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally between Al-Wabra and Sealine in Qatar on Monday afternoon.
Hot and windy conditions made the going tough for all competitors, but the opening stage of just 201.94km was short by Sealine standards and enabled Coma to charge through from 13th on the road to claim the stage win in the motorcycle category by six seconds on his Red Bull KTM factory bike. Team HRC’s Joan Barreda Bort was second and Dubai-based Briton Sam Sunderland was third. “Always the first day is tricky and you don’t have the feeling from one year ago,” said Coma. “The desert here is very particular and it is important not to make a mistake. In one part I did make a small error, but everyone makes small mistakes. The first day is important now with these new rules. If the first day goes well, then it sets you up nicely for the next four days. At least we are in a good position.” Barreda Bort was a determined second. “It’s not easy when you are near the front and you are opening the stage. It was a good job but I made some mistakes in the last kilometres and lose some time.” Mohammed Abu Issa drew first blood in the battle between four quad riders for Qatar supremacy. The defending Sealine champion and current FIM quad series leader, riding a Honda TRX, gained 59 seconds on Poland’s Rafal Sonik.
“I was happy with that,” said Abu Issa. “I caught them (Sonik) after 10 or 15 kilometres and they stayed with me. Then (Rafal) Sonik made a couple of mistakes. Tomorrow I will start alone and I can, maybe, make a difference. My navigation today was a bit off, but I will try and make a gap tomorrow.”
Al-Attiyah passed three of his Mini team-mates to record a comfortable stage win with French navigator Matthieu Baumel in the car category. The Qatari reached the bivouac 3min 39sec in front of Saudi Arabian Overdrive Toyota Hilux driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Vladimir Vasilyev, the defending FIA World Cup champion, holds third place in his X-raid Mini All4 Racing. “No problems today, quite happy and not really pushing at all,” insisted Al-Attiyah. “The navigation was okay, the car is fine. Let’s see tomorrow.”
Al-Rajhi reached the bivouac with a deflating front right-hand tyre and a minor concern about a loss of power mid-stage, but the Riyadh driver was happy with second position nonetheless. “Not bad second, that’s the clever way to keep the championship going forward. We lose a little power midway. I thought engine and then I thought maybe electrical, but I am happy so far.” Tomorrow (Tuesday), competitors will tackle the first of four demanding loop stages through the south of Qatar. The day’s action starts 71.52km from the Sealine bivouac, runs for 398.88km and finishes 2.1km from the service park and rally headquarters.
SS1 – as it happened
Thirty-two cars, 23 bikes, four quads and four cars entered in the Qatar National Baja left the start at Losail to tackle the opening 201.94km selective section, which started at Al-Wabra and finished less than a kilometre from the bivouac at Sealine. Jeremias Esquerra had the dubious task of leading the riders into the opening stage on his works Honda, with FIM series leaders Coma and Sunderland opting to start the special from 13th and 12th on the road. Viladoms had caught and passed Esquerra by the opening passage control after 58.36km, but Barreda Bort was on a charge from his starting position of eight and that set the tone for the rest of the stage. He edged into a 1min 54sec lead over second-placed Coma. By PC2, after 135.33km, Viladoms had pulled well clear of Esquerra and was running alone at the head of the field. He passed the checkpoint in 1hr 33min 50sec, but he was still running over five minutes behind a flying Barreda Bort, who was now riding close to Esquerra after passing five of his rivals. But Coma was also on form and was quicker than Barreda Bort by 1min 45sec into PC2, with Sunderland in second. Al-Attiyah started from fourth in the car category and stole a march on his closest rivals to reach PC1 with a lead of 2min 18sec over Al-Rajhi. Roma and Vasilyev were third and fourth.
Viladoms reached the stage finish in 2hrs 18min 09sec after running at the front of the field for much of the day. “Very difficult, like always, and with the wind it was not easy to see the piste. I am happy with this position after opening from around kilometre 20. The strategy is so important with the new rules. I will fight to the end,” said the Spaniard.
Coma made a small error near the end, but managed to record a six-second stage win from Barreda Bort, with Sunderland and Pablo Quintanilla coming in third and fourth. Emirati Mohammed Al-Balooshi was an impressive sixth behind Team HRC’s Paulo Goncalves. Al-Attiyah extended his lead over Al-Rajhi to 3min 45sec through PC2 and Erik van Loon moved ahead of Vasilyev and Roma and into a virtual third, but Vasilyev regained third overall through the final kilometres, as van Loon, Roma and Brazilian Reinaldo Varela rounded off the top six and Al-Attiyah claimed the stage win by 3min 39sec.
Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani crashed his Ford Raptor six kilometres from the stage finish and the car sustained radiator damage. Dutchman Rene Kuipers crashed his HRX Ford heavily 20km from the finish and was transported via helicopter to Hamad General Hospital in Doha for observation.This year’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally is being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) with support from GAC and the Salam International Group.
2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS1 (unofficial @ 15.50hrs):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 1hr 51min 59sec2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottchalk (DEU) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 1hr 55min 38sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 2hr 00min 08sec4. Erik van Loon (NED)/Wouter Rosegaar (NED) Mini All4 Racing 2hr 01min 15sec
5. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Mini All4 Racing 2hr 02min 21sec6. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 2hr 06min 49sec
7. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) H3 Evo 7 2hr 07min 53sec8. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 2hr 08min 56sec
9. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Mini All4 Racing 2hr 09min 16sec10. Harry Hunt (GBR)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 2hr 13min 14sec
1. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 2hr 10min 01sec2. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Honda CRF 450 Rally 2hr 10min 07sec
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Replica 2hr 10min 58sec4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) KTM 450 Rally Replica 2hr 12min 06sec
5. Paulo Goncalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450 Rally 2hr 14min 10sec6. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica 2hr 15min 17sec
7. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Replica 2hr 18min 09sec8. Ruben Faria (PRT) KTM 450 Rally 2hr 18min 28sec
9. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Replica 2hr 23min 04sec10. Jeremias Esquerra (CHI) Honda CRF 450 Rally 2hr 28min 32sec
12. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 2hr 40min 40sec14. Nelson Augusto Sanabria (PAR) Yamaha Raptor 700 2hr 43min 12sec
20. Kamil Wisniewski (POL) Yamaha Raptor 3hr 10min 49sec