Qatar's al-Attiyah wins Super Special stage at 23rd Oman International Rally

Published November 6th, 2015 - 10:01 GMT
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel laid down the gauntlet to their rivals by posting the fastest time on the opening 2.5km timed super special of the 23rd Oman International Rally, which was staged near the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) in Muscat yesterday afternoon.
The pair carded a time of 2min 18sec in their Ford Fiesta RRC and that was 2.8 seconds quicker than Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid al-Qassimi, driving a Citroën DS3 RRC.  Qatar’s Abdulaziz a-Kuwari and British navigator Marshall Clarke were third.
Saif al-Harthy and Salim al-Abry was the highest-placed Omani crew in seventh overall, while Kuwaiti Salah Bin Eidan and his Slovenian co-driver Vili Oslaj led the Group N category in fourth place. Cars tackled the stage in reverse order, although it was a disappointing start for Abu Dhabi Racing’s Mansoor Bel Helai. The Citroën DS3 R3T driver dropped two minutes on the stage and slipped to the foot of the leader board.
Fifteen of the original 20 entries were flagged away from the start at the Oman Automobile Association by Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah, president of the QMMF and FIA vice-president Mena. The event is unique in regional rallying history in that, with the exception of Oman-based Lebanese driver Tony Georgiou in 1992, no local driver has ever won the event.
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Saeed Bintowq suffered a scare when his Citroën DS3 R3T suffered engine issues on the return from scrutineering. But PH Sport team mechanics worked to replace the power plant and the Emirati was able to continue.
Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah is looking forward to the weekend immensely: “The stages here are fantastic. They are some of the best in the world, they are technical and demand a lot from the driver. I’m here to win and I want to equal Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s record of 60 wins. We saw many spectators, even on the recce. They have a huge understanding and knowledge of rallying. It is in their culture.”
“I am trying to win here as well,” said Abdulaziz al-Kuwari. “This is different to the other rounds of the championship. We had some rain before the event, but the organisers have done an excellent job in repairing the roads and removing the big rocks.
There will be six special stages today, starting with the first of two runs through the Rusayl stage from 09.58hrs. Attention then switches to stages at Misfah and Saal from 10.26hrs and 10.59hrs and the three are repeated in the afternoon at 13.27hrs, 13.55hrs and 14.27hrs after a service stop and regroup at the OAA. The event is due to finish on tomorrow afternoon.
Positions after SS1
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Ford Fiesta RRC 2min 18.0sec
2. Khalid al-Qassimi (ARE)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Citroën DS3 RRC 2min 20.8sec
3. Abdulaziz al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC 2min 22.2sec
4. Salah bin Eidan (KWT)/Vili Oslaj (SVN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2min 28.2sec
5. Khalid al-Suwaidi (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RRC 2min 32.3sec
6. Rashid al-Naimi (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2min 34.9sec
7. Saif al-Harthy (OMN)/Salim al-Abry (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2min 41.0sec
8. Saeed Bintowq (ARE)/Allan Harryman (GBR) Citroën DS3 R3T 2min 41.7sec
9. Zakariya Said Ahmed (OMN)/Saif al-Hinai (OMN) Subaru Impreza  2min 43.4sec
10. Khalid al-Minji (OMN)/Saif al-Aisri (OMN) Subaru Impreza 2min 43.5sec
11. Meshari al-Thefiri (KWT)/Taha Soomar (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X 2min 43.9sec
12. Zakariya al-Ofi (OMN)/Ammar al-Balushi (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2min 44.3sec
13. Qassim al-Zadali (OMN)/Nooh al-Raisi (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 2min 53.5sec
14. Hamid al-Qasmi (OMN)/Mohammed al-Mazroi (OMN) Mitsubishi Evo VIII 2min 57.3sec
15. Mansoor Bel Helai (ARE)/Khalid al-Kendi (ARE) Citroën DS3 R3T 4min 54.9sec

© Gulf Times Newspaper 2019

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