Al Attiyah e Peterhansel avversari per la Coppa del Mondo Rallyes Tout Terrain
Non si deve pensare neanche per un attimo che il rally sia stato una prova facile, da prendere sottogamba, e se qualcuno l'ha fatto si è di sicuro pentito, rendendosi conto di quanto complicata sia questa competizione. Prima di tutto per il fondo, durissimo, pieno di sassi, e quando non ci sono i sassi ci sono le dune, e addirittura certi giorni il fango. Nello stesso tempo è una gara molto veloce, con medie elevate e questo ha creato qualche piccolo problema all'interno degli abitacoli, a quelle coppie, la maggior parte, formatesi quest'anno e ancora alla ricerca del feeling giusto. Per questo il successo di Al Attiyah e Mathieu Baumel, che ormai corrono insieme da molti anni, acquisisce un valore in più, visto che ormai i due sono molto affiatati fra loro.
Non c'è stato un solo giorno senza problemi, per nessuno. Petehrnasel ha iniziato da subito, danneggiando una ruota nella prima tappa e di conseguenza anche la sua Mini buggy e perdendo quei 15 minuti che poi non è stato praticamente più possibile recuperare. Kuba Przygonski, terzo assoluto al traguardo finale, è caduto in una buca enorme nella penultima tappa e ha danneggiato non poco la sua Mini - sì, per questa gara correva con la Mini - riuscendo comunque ad arrivare al traguardo di tappa e a ripartire il giorno dopo, grazie a un quasi miracolo dei suoi meccanici. Anche Toyota non ha avuto vita facile: Yazeed Al Rajhi - che aveva vinto qui nel 2018 - si è capotato nella terza tappa e ha sofferto poi per qualche foratura di troppo - tre nella sola seconda tappa - finendo sul traguardo solo settimo mentre l'olandese Ten Brinke terzo assoluto fino a due tappe dalla fine ha rotto l'albero motore finendo insabbiato e perdendo oltre mezz'ora nel tentativo di tirarsi fuori : l'olandese è riuscito a ripartire ma la sua Hi Lux ovviamente non era in grado di proseguire facilmente, pur riparando il pezzo e pur lottando con i vari sensori di allarme che mandavano in protezione il motore. Alla fine Ten Brinke e il suo copilota Tom Colsoul non sono riusciti ad andare oltre la 15. posizione assoluta. Anche Nasser Al Attiyah comunque ha sofferto: problemi di temperatura dell'acqua lo hanno fermato in più di una occasione e anche lui ha forato in una delle cinque speciali della prova che misurava in tutto 2521 chilometri di cui 1860 di prove speciali. Migliore degli SSV al via, il brasiliano Reinaldo Varela su Can Am South Racing, ottavo assoluto, mentre l'unico equipaggio italiano presente in gara, composto da Michele Cinotto e Maurizio Dominella è stato costretto al ritiro nell'ultima tappa ad anello, tradito dal motore proprio mentre lottava per la terza posizione assoluta nella classifica SSV. Solo diciotto gli equipaggi al traguardo.
From Overdrive Press office:
Overdrive Racing’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah was made to work mightily hard for a second victory in Rally Kazakhstan and the outright lead in the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The Qatari and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel looked to be in control before the fifth demanding selective section through some of the remotest terrain in eastern Kazakhstan. Lengthy delays for the crew in that loop stage to the north of Aktau City meant that the outcome went down to the wire and the Toyota Hilux crew had to stave off a fierce challenge from rival and Dakar legend Stéphane Peterhansel over the final stage to confirm a second win on the longest FIA event in the calendar. Al-Attiyah eventually pressed on down the coastline of the Caspian Sea to the finish in Aktau City to secure a winning margin of 5min 21sec and repeat his 2017 triumph on the newest round of the cross-country calendar. The win gave him an unofficial nine-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship to take to the final round in Morocco in October. Al-Attiyah said: “I am obviously very happy to win Rally Kazakhstan and now I am leading the championship. Now we are waiting for Morocco. This is a good year for us. Six wins in total and six races in which I compete. We controlled the pace well today. It was a nice stage, no problems.”Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi was not able to repeat last year’s success in Kazakhstan but he and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz claimed two stage wins, led after day one and recovered from a third-day roll and a series of punctures to reach the finish in eighth overall. Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul held third overall in their Toyota Hilux until issues on the fifth Aktau loop stage cost them a lot of time. They won the last stage but hefty time penalties dropped them out of the top 15 at the finish in Aktau. After those penultimate stage problems that cost him third overall, Ten Brinke said: “We started that stage very fast and pushed a lot in the first part in the dunes. Then we broke a drive shaft and got stuck in the sand. It took us 30 minutes to get moving and then we had to change the drive shaft. Then we had a sensor alarm issue and had to stop and reset and then decided to quit the stage in case we damaged the car.” It was an enthralling start to the event being organised by the Automotorsport Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan for both Al-Attiyah and Al-Rajhi. They were separated by just two seconds through the opening 280.35km selective section from Aktau City to the bivouac to the south at Kenderley. The Qatari carded a time of 2hrs 22min 03sec to snatch the outright lead from his Saudi rival. Defending World Champion Jakub Przygonski was just over three minutes behind the stage winner in third and Ten Brinke came in fifth with the third Toyota in a time of 2hrs 30min 26sec. However, Al-Attiyah was awarded a one-minute time penalty for speeding in a restricted area and the overall lead was gifted to Al-Rajhi. The Qatari said: “Last year our car was seriously damaged on the first stage and we had to withdraw. Everything is going according to plan and I am optimistic, despite the one-minute penalty.” The second loop stage around Senek, to the east of Kenderli, was the longest of the event at 414.12km and included stretches of sand dunes. There was no stopping the Qatari on this occasion, however, and the Overdrive Racing star stopped the clocks in a time of 3hrs 52min 14sec to set the fastest time and storm into an outright lead of 4min 32sec over Przygonski, despite another one-minute time penalty.Despite losing time in the dust of a rival Russian competitor for over 60km, Ten Brinke was second fastest and climbed to fourth, but Al-Rajhi ceded 8min 39sec to his Arab rival after a series of flat tyres and slipped to third – 6min 41sec behind his team-mate.
The Saudi said: “We had three flat tyres and drove the last 30 kilometres to the finish with one wheel on the rim.” The third stage of 327.47km also looped through the deserts and grasslands to the east of Kenderli and Al-Attiyah was in form again to extend his overall advantage to 11min 55sec with a second fastest time of the event thus far. The Qatari beat Ten Brinke by 3min 36sec, as the Dutchman moved up to second overall with Al-Rajhi rolling, losing 1hr 19min on the special and slipping to 16th overall after an additional four hours of time penalties were added to his time at the overnight halt. The Saudi said: “We pushed and 30km into the section passed Peterhansel to follow Ten Brinke. Then, on a tight corner, the wheels went into a ditch and we rolled.”
After surviving tricky stretches of camel grass, Al-Attiyah insisted: “It was not an easy stage, very different to the last two days and more technical.” The fourth selective section ran for 399.24km on a route that guided crews back to Aktau City from a start in Kenderli via the petroleum hub at Zhanaozen. Al-Rajhi bounced back impressively from his previous day’s accident to set the fastest time of 3hrs 45min 53sec on the timed section that was held in muddy conditions in places after overnight rain. He beat Al-Attiyah by 8min 12sec, but the Qatari maintained an overall advantage of 8min 43sec over Przygonski, the Pole moving ahead of Ten Brinke and into second overall with the third quickest time. Al-Rajhi climbed to 11th position. The Dutchman said: “We started second on the road and caught Nasser 100km into the stage. We were the first car into the dunes but then he passed us again before we retook the lead and ran together. It was good for Tom and me and we’re in a good position to fight for second.” The penultimate stage looped through the deserts within close vicinity to Aktau City and 290.19km were timed against the clock. This terrain crossed the sandy dunes of the Kyzylkum desert that had not been used on the event before and sections of steppe roads and salt marshes. Al-Rajhi was fastest again with a time of 2hrs 58min 00sec to move further up the leader board to eighth overall. Al-Attiyah continued to lead the event outright after setting the fourth fastest time of 3hrs 31min 29sec – a minor sensor issue showing fluctuating water temperatures on the Qatar’s Toyota Hilux and forcing him to stop on two occasions for around 45 minutes before he sustained a late flat tyre. It was a dramatic day in the Kazakh deserts: Ten Brinke lost his place in the rally with a broken drive shaft, Przygonski ceded over an hour to his rivals and Peterhansel was promoted to second overall behind the leading Toyota Hilux. Al-Attiyah said: “I was happy to make it to the end. We lost time but this is racing and we accept what happens. After the problems, I found a new level of speed. It was more than flat-out and with no mistakes..” Stage winner Al-Rajhi added: “The navigation was very difficult. It was hard to see and find the route. We had to do two loops to find the right road in one place and we had a puncture.” Al-Attiyah took an advantage of 5min 38sec into the short 148.76km final loop stage to the north of Aktau City that also featured a section running along the shoreline of the Caspian Sea. With nothing to lose after his issues on day five, Ten Brinke won the last stage in a time of 1hr 15min 08sec, but Al-Attiyah did enough to stave off any late pressure from Peterhansel to secure the victory for Overdrive Racing and take the outright FIA World Cup lead.
From X Raid Press Office:
At the Rally Kazakhstan, the third and penultimate round in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, two cars built by X-raid made it onto the podium. Stéphane (FRA) and Andrea Peterhansel (GER) secured second place in the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy, behind Nasser Al-Attiyah. Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski (POL) and Timo Gottschalk (GER) finished in third place in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally. The MSK Rally Team with the two Russians Denis Krotov and Dmytro Tsyro finished in a very good fifth place overall in the MINI JCW Rally.
This year’s rally asked a lot of man and machine, with none of the crews surviving the six stages without any problems. The rocky terrain placed a great strain on the tyres and the dunes also caused one or two cars to lose time.
But the dress rehearsal for Stéphane and Andrea Peterhansel in the MINI JCW Buggy can be regarded as a success. After their win at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the MINI JCW Rally, the married couple finished in a very good second place. On the very first stage, one of their tyres burst on a rocky section, which also damaged the MINI badly. The duo was unable to fully make up the 15 minutes they lost, and finished second, five minutes behind Al-Attiyah.
Przygonski, who returned to the MINI JCW Rally for Kazakhstan, was among the frontrunners from the start and was in second place after the fourth stage. But on the penultimate special stage, the duo slammed into a hole with full force. Fortunately, Przygonski and Gottschalk were unscathed and were even able to complete the special stage. Since other teams also battled with problems, the MINI JCW Rally duo only slid down into third place. The X-raid team’s mechanics managed to repair the MINI in time for the final special stage, enabling Przygonski to defend his third place.
“Unfortunately, we had the issue with the tyres on the first day, the first two days were a little complicated for us overall. But things were better as of day three. The Rally Kazakhstan is different from all the other events: the average speed is very high here and Andrea and I had to get used to that first. Overall, working with Andrea is getting better all the time. We are gaining more experience together and the timing is good. We’re happy with second place.”
“It was a good race for us and we are pleased with third place. We could have done better, but we made a big mistake yesterday and we damaged the car pretty badly. Fortunately, it was possible to repair the MINI. Overall the speed was good, but we didn’t have the luck to go with it!”
X-raid team principal Sven Quandt
“It was a crazy race with a lot of mixed feelings. Stéphane was unlucky on the first day and was unable to make up the time on the fast sections. On the final two days, Andrea and Stéphane were used to the navigation and tracks, and clinched second place. Kuba had more luck at first. But then an error saw them drive into a big hole and lose valuable time. At least they were able to rescue third place.“
The final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies is the Rally du Maroc in October. In the FIA overall standings, Stéphane Peterhansel is currently in second place (51 points), behind Al-Attiyah (60 points). The next round of the FIA Cross Country Bajas World Cup will be the Italian Baja on June 20th.