Coppa del Mondo FIA Tout Terrain, si parte dal Qatar
Oggi pomeriggio alle 18,30 con la cerimonia di apertura partirà la nuova stagione dunque, riservata al Tout Terrain, quella, per intenderci, a cui partecipano piloti e case ufficiali. Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan e Marocco sono le cinque gare che compongono il calendario 2019. I 28 equipaggi, provenienti da 19 diversi Paesi si affronteranno da domani, venerdì e fino a martedì in una sfida allestita quasi interamente nel deserto del Qatar. Le operazioni preliminari che si stanno concludendo stamattina hanno visto avvicendarsi al Souq Al-Medina e fra loro il campione 2018 tout terrain, Kuba Przygonski che guiderà una delle due Mini X Raid schierate al via, mentre la seconda è stata affidata al pilota dell'Arabia Saudita Yasir Seaidan. La consegna ritardata dei container inviati via nave - quest'anno la gara è particolarmente vicina alla Dakar, mentre di solito si correva in aprile - ha tenuto tutti con il fiato sospeso fino a ieri quando finalmente i team ufficiali hanno potuto recuperare i propri mezzi e prepararli in tempo per sottomettersi alle verifiche.
Al via anche il recente vincitore della Dakar 2019, Nasser Al Attiyah, padrone di casa in Qatar e per questo grande favorito nella rincorsa alla vittoria. Se ce la facesse per lui si tratterebbe del sesto successo in una gara che esiste nel panorama mondiale FIA da ben otto anni. Tre le Toyota ufficiali al via, oltre a quella di Al Attiyah anche la Hi Lux dell'olandese Ten Brinke e quella dell'arabo Yazeed Al Rajhi rientrato nel team - dove aveva già corso fino al 2014 - dopo una lunga parentesi in Mini.
Ma le sorprese non finiscono qui. Per la nuova stagione ci sono parecchie novità, soprattutto all'interno dell'abitacolo. Kuba Przygonski dopo aver vinto con lui la Coppa del Mondo 2018 lascia Tom Colsoul che se ne va in Toyota, o forse sarebbe meglio dire torna in Toyota, al fianco di Ten Brinke mentre Timo Gottschalk lascia Al Rajhi e raggiunge proprio il polacco confermando il suo buon rapporto con Sven Quandt e X Raid. E a questo punto allora chi ci sarà accanto ad Al Rajhi che ha riconfermato la sua fiducia alla Toyota? Facile, Dirk von Zitzewitz che si ritrova libero e sfaccendato visto che il suo abituale pilota, Giniel De Villiers come consuetudine non parteciperà alla Coppa del Mondo e quindi potrà fare a meno del suo secondo. Un bel turn over dunque, che crea ancora più curiosità intorno a questa gara in Qatar.
Al via anche 13 SidebySide e fra questi Reinaldo Varela, Michele Cinotto, Camelia Liparoti e si riaccende la battaglia fra Yamaha, Can Am e Polaris.
La gara avrà inizio domani con la prima speciale di 102 km che servirà anche per definire l'ordine di partenza delle successive quattro tappe, una sorta di lungo prologo. A seguire poi ci saranno speciali da 313 km, 338 km e una quarta da 350 km con un breve trasferimento di 56 km. La quinta ed ultima speciale misurerà 270 chilometri e martedì 26 febbraio concluderà la gara raggiungendo The Pearl-Qatar. In totale i chilometri da percorrere saranno 2,059 km di cui 1,367 km di prove speciali.
English Version from official press officer
LUSAIL (Qatar): The Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally gets underway with a spectacular starting ceremony at Souq Al-Medina on The Pearl-Qatar from 18.30hrs on Thursday afternoon. Drivers and co-drivers from 19 countries will then tackle five punishing selective sections through the Qatar deserts from Friday to Tuesday (February 21-26) on this opening round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF). Poland’s top seed and last year’s event winner Jakub Przygonski is the defending FIA World Cup winner and will be one of a handful of drivers who will attend a pre-event press conference at Souq Al-Medina on The Pearl-Qatar prior to the start. Przygonski drives the first of two X-raid MINIs in the event, with Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Seaidan driving the second car and hoping to improve on last year’s third place. Equipment and team personnel began to arrive at the service park, adjacent to the Lusail Sports Arena, on Monday and Tuesday, with the majority of the equipment in situ by Wednesday morning. “It was obviously a tight schedule from the end of the Dakar to the start of the first round of the FIA World Cup,” said X-raid Team’s Tobias Quandt at Losail on Wednesday morning. “I admit I was getting a little anxious yesterday about the whereabouts of the container, but everything is here in good time and we are putting the final touches to Jakub’s car, so that he can go out there and defend his title.”Qatar’s hopes of victory rest firmly on the shoulders of the three-time Dakar Rally winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel. Al-Attiyah will be chasing a sixth victory in his home round of the FIA World Cup in the first of three Toyota Hiluxes entered by Overdrive Racing. Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi drive the second and third V8-engined cars that were designed in South Africa and are run by the Belgium-based team. Ten Brinke’s Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul won the event last season with Przygonski. He said: “Qatar is always the most difficult round of the championship with the navigation. It is nice to have a rally where you are more important than the driver. I have changed teams and have a new car and driver, but the working is the same. I am happy to be back with Bernhard. I need to defend something, indeed.” Ten Brinke added: “We already drove this morning, early, in a test and planned to carry out a second loop this afternoon. It’s good to be back in business after Dakar and to be together with Tom. I have a good feeling. Let’s see how it is going.” Fresh from finishing second overall in last weekend’s Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally through the snowy tree-lined wastelands of the Republic of Karelia, Vladimir Vasilyev has entered the Qatar event in a BMW X3 CC with his regular navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov. The Russian finished second in Qatar in 2018. The experienced Czech Miroslav Zapletal was also in Russia last weekend and will be looking to improve on the fifth place that one of his Ford F-150 Evo cars achieved in Qatar in the hands of former WRC star Martin Prokop in 2018.
Recent events in Qatar have only attracted four or five entrants in the T3 category for Improved Cross-Country Vehicles, but 13 crews will battle for honours and the impressive prize fund on this occasion.
Brazilian Reinaldo Varela won the Side-by-Side (SxS) category at the Dakar Rally last year and he tops a superb field of T3 Can-Am, Yamaha and Polaris derivatives that includes further drivers from Qatar, Italy, Oman, Russia, Romania and Saudi Arabia. The sole female competitor on the provisional entry list is the experienced former Italian quad rider Camelia Liparoti. She has switched to the T3 category and heads to Qatar with French navigator Max Delfino in a Yamaha YZX 1000R. Three drivers from Qatar will fight for supremacy in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles and try and follow in the footsteps of both Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Qatar’s Adel Abdulla, who have dominated the section in the last three years. Mohammed Al-Meer, Mohammed Al-Harqan and Abdulla Najeeb Al-Baker wheel out a Toyota Land Cruiser and a pair of Nissan Patrols. The T4 truck category has not been the most popular in the Middle East region in the past. The factory Kamaz team competed at the Desert Challenge several years ago, but Saudi Arabian driver Ibrahim Al-Muhanna switched from a Nissan to a Mercedes Unimog at the Ha’il International Rally in December and is hoping to give the impressive truck its Qatar debut next week.
“We had a slot in the calendar in February this year and that was very close to the finish of the Dakar Rally in Peru in mid-January,” said QMMF president Abdulrahman Al-Mannai. “Nevertheless, our team has worked hard to support teams with their logistics in a short time frame and I am delighted with the response and the quality of the field we have for this event. It is a truly international field with strength in depth.”
The Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally gets underway with a ceremonial start on The Pearl-Qatar on February 21st and finishes on February 26th.The T3 category has been expanded in 2019 and new technical passports have been given to derivatives of the Can-Am Maverick X3, Polaris RZR 1000 and the Yamaha YZX 1000 R. Already an extremely popular category at the Dakar Rally – where teams compete in a Side-by-Side (SxS) section, 13 teams have entered the FIA opener in Qatar. Brazilian Reinaldo Varela has been to Qatar before with the South Racing team and he wheels out a Monster Energy Can-Am on this occasion and tops a group that includes Adel Abdulla and Ahmed Al-Kuwari from Qatar, Romania’s Claudiu Barbu, Russian Fedor Vorobyev and Oman’s Abdullah Al-Zubair.The result of the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles will be fought out between the Qatari duo of Mohammed Al-Meer and Mohammed Al-Harqan and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulla Najeeb Al-Baker.Drivers on the unofficial list for the National Baja rounds include Lebanon’s defending MERC 3 champion Henry Kahy, Kuwait’s Salem Al-Dhafeeri and the likes of Jamal Fakhroo, Ahmed Allouh, Hussain Mahdi, Nicolas Pacheco, Jahman Jaralla and Jamal Allouh. Several drivers registered for the FIA event will also score points in the National Championship.
The competitive action then fires into life with a 102km stage on February 22 and that will define the starting order for the first of four further desert selective sections. The subsequent two timed sections run for 313km and 338km and the fourth is planned for 350km, with a short road liaison of 56km built into the day’s timetable. The fifth and final stage takes place on February 26 and runs for 270km before the ceremonial finish on The Pearl-Qatar. In a route of 2,059km, teams will tackle around 1,367km against the clock.
2019 Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally – provisional starters (unofficial):
201. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Rally202. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) BMW X3 CC
203. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive204. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) MINI All4 Racing
205. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive206. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive
207. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F150 Evo209. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am Maverick X3
210. Abdullah Al-Rabban (QAT)/Dennis Nikitopulous (AUT) Chevrolet Jeep211. Khaled Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Nissan Patrol
212. Eugenio Amos (ITA)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Ford 2WD Buggy213. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Marc Serra (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3
214. Michele Cinotto (ITA)/Maurizio Dominella (ITA) Polaris RZR 1000 T215. Abdullah Al-Zubair (OMN)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick X3
216. Fedor Vorobeyev (RUS)/Kirill Shubin (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3217. Claudiu Barbu (ROU)/Paul Spiridon (ROU) Polaris RZR 1000
218. Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Manuel Lucchese (ITA) Can-Am Maverick X3219. Mohammed Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick X3
220. Khalid Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RZR 1000221. Camelia Liparoti (ITA)/Max Delfino (FRA) Yamaha YZX 1000 R
222. Rashed Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Ahmed Al-Fares (KWT) Polaris RZR 1000223. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Ziad Al-Harbi (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3
224. Mubarak Al-Khelaifi (QAT)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Polaris RZR 1000225. Mohammed Al-Meer (QAT)/Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Land Cruiser T2
226. Mohammed Al-Harqan (QAT)/Vili Oslaj (SLO) ` Nissan Patrol T2227. Abdullah Al-Baker (QAT)/Mohammed Abu Hassan (QAT) Nissan Patrol T2
401. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Mercedes Unimog