Al Attiyah, Sunderland e Casale vincono in Qatar
Cinque vittorie in sei anni e la seconda consecutiva per il 2016. Questo il piccolo record stabilito da Nasser Al Attiyah che insieme al suo navigatore, Mattihieu Baumel ha vinto la seconda prova, dopo Abu Dhabi, consecutiva con la Toyota Overdrive, in questa Coppa del Mondo FIA Tout Terrain 2016. 12 minuti il gap fra il pilota del Qatar che giocava ovviamente in casa, e il secondo classificato, Yazeed Al Rajhi che regala il podio alla X Raid, così come fa anche il russo Vladimir Vasilyev terzo. Le Mini rincorrono dunque, in questa prima fase del mondiale, ma i punti che Al Attiyah sta accumulando stanno facendo la differenza. Ora infatti, arriveranno le gare più corte, le Baja - e fra queste l'Italian Baja di Pordenone - e i punti a disposizione dei piloti saranno ovviamente di meno rispetto ad un rally marathon, quindi più lungo.
Sam Sunderland ha raggiunto in Qatar la sua seconda vittoria in una gara di Mondiale, ma ha regalato alla Ktm la quinta vittoria su sei edizioni del rally. Poco più di 9 minuti il suo margine sul cileno Pablo Quintanilla che almeno ha vinto l'ultima speciale e ha portato la sua Husqvarna sul secondo gradino del podio mentre Helder Rodrigues ha assicurato alla Yamaha il terzo posto assoluto, davanti a Salvatierra e Renet. Ignacio Casale ha vinto la classifica dei quad, battendo il suo rivale Rafal Sonik che aveva sofferto per una debacle meccanica all'inizio della prova.
Al traguardo tutta la Cinotto Family. Pietro è stato il migliore con il suo undicesimo posto e si è portato a casa la vittoria della classe, davanti a Carlo, dodicesimo e secondo di classe, mentre Michele ha chiuso un po' più indietro quinto della categoria.
LOSAIL (Qatar): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Dubai-based English rider Sam Sunderland and Chile’s Ignacio Casale emerged unscathed from the final 350.94km selective section of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally to confirm memorable victories in the car, motorcycle and quad categories at Losail on Friday. The final stage was won by the rally runners-up, Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Pablo Quintanilla and Rafal Sonik, but they began the fifth section too far behind to realistically challenge for victory and the stage wins were minor consolations. Al-Attiyah recorded a second outright win with Overdrive Racing and the Toyota Hilux in the space of four weeks and a fifth win in six years. The triumph marked a third successive win for his French navigator Matthieu Baumel and gives the entire team a comfortable lead in the FIA World Cup after three rounds. The X-raid Mini All4 Racing crew of Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk won the final stage and finished 12min 03sec behind the Toyota.“It was a good day for us. This is an important win in Qatar,” said Al-Attiyah. “I am quite happy. It was good to control the race all the way. We had the speed if we needed it. After two races I have 120 points. Now we prepare ourselves for the smaller races. To win at home is fantastic.”
Chilean Pablo Quintanilla made Sunderland work mightily hard for the second biggest win of the talented young Englishman’s career. The Chilean started fifth on the road, passed three of his rivals and then caught Sunderland to halve the overnight deficit. Neither rider could afford the slightest mistake over the closing nervy kilometres and Sunderland held on to give KTM a fifth win in Qatar in six years by the margin of 9min 38sec. “It was really good. It has been a lot of work over the last six months to come back after the broken femur,” said 27-year-old Sunderland. “I missed Dakar and sitting at home watching was really a tough time for me mentally and physically. I’m really happy. The team have been so supportive through all this time and I owe everything to them. It’s been a tough race, fighting with Pablo all week, and it’s not been easy. I knew he was going to catch me today. I could relax a bit and then we rode together to the finish.”Quintanilla secured a comfortable second overall, Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues rounded off the podium and Bolivia’s Juan Carlos Salvatierra and Husqvarna’s Pierre Alexander Renet were fourth and fifth. “I am quite happy with the race and the result,” said Quintanilla. “It’s an important race for the championship and this is good points at the end. It was a hard race with Sam and the navigation. I did a mistake, but these things can happen.”
Ignacio Casale rode a superb race on his Yamaha Raptor 700 SE to clinch a crushing victory in the quad category and break Rafal Sonik’s stranglehold on success in Qatar. It marked the first victory on the Sealine event for a Yamaha of any kind and puts the Chilean back into contention for the FIM world title. His winning margin was 31min 49sec. Casale said: “To come all the way from Chile and compete here was not easy, but I am delighted with the win. It was a very hard race and a great practice with the navigation for the Dakar.” “Not my luck this year, because we had some technical problems in the beginning and then I was struggling,” said Sonik. “Last night we had to change the engine and since Julien (Villarrubia) crashed I was a little bit upset on my mind, because I had already experienced this kind of crash in Abu Dhabi two years ago. It was not an easy race, but credit to Ignacio for his performance and his victory.”Al-Rajhi said: “We are happy. We pushed at the start until we catch Nasser and then I follow him to the finish. It was a very good fight. Other than the one day, we did a very good job. ”Behind Al-Rajhi, G-Energy Team Mini driver Vladimir Vasilyev rounded off the car podium in third overall, although the St. Petersburg-based driver was 1hr 11in 13sec behind Al-Attiyah. Kazakh Yuriy Sazonov finished an impressive fourth in the Mobilex Racing Team H3 and Jutta Kleinschmidt rounded off the top five.“This has been a really enjoyable event, demanding, different and the stages were just the right length,” said Kleinschmidt. “It was a proper cross-country rally. It’s great to be back in the car and I hope that I can do some more events now. There is still work to do.”
Marek Dabrowski recovered from a roll in the middle of the week to snatch sixth in the second Toyota Hilux, but Ricardo Porém lost two places and finished seventh after delays in his Mini on the final stage. Chile’s Hernan Garces enjoyed an impressive Qatar debut in the DMAS South Racing Ford Ranger to finish eighth after Yerdan Shagirov’s H3 Evolution V fell foul of the final kilometres of the day.
Saudi’s Yasir Seaidan and French navigator Sébastien Delaunay survived two flat tyres on the penultimate stage to press home their T2 advantage into the final day and snatch the FIA T2 World Cup lead after three rounds. The Saudi had won the T3 section at Sealine back in 2013 and finished a fine ninth this week. Pietro Cinotto beat his father Carlo to the final place in the top 10 and the spoils in T3.
Adel Hussein shadowed Mohammed Al-Harqan and the Polish driver Jaroslaw Kazberuk (Fod Raptor) to claim fourth in T2 with his Nissan Middle East-supported Patrol. Abu Dhabi-based Lebanese driver Emil Khneisser was fifth in a second Nissan Patrol Y62.
Kiwi Emma Gilmour, French girl Charlotte Berton and Spain’s Cristina Gutierrez all started the final day in three QMMF-backed T1 Nissan Patrols and just one car reached the finish to cap a memorable week in the deserts for the girls running under the watchful eye of Kleinschmidt and their ‘mother’, the veteran WRC and Cross-County navigator Fabrizia Pons.
Gilmour retired when the wheel hub broke again and she shed the same wheel as she had on Thursday, Berton succumbed to an oil leak, but Gutierrez struggled on to reach Losail in an unofficial 22nd overall after missing some of the rally with front differential issues.