After temporarily leading Qatar International Rally at the end of the Super Special Stage with 0.7s ahead of Qatari driver Nasser Al Attiyah, today’s stages were plagued with hiccups that setback UAE champion Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and co-driver Chris Patterson’s advancement. Starting with relatively vague routes in the early run, Al Qassimi was faced with another misfortune when the radiator started leaking during the last few meters of the fifth stage. Rising to the challenge, the Emirati, who chairs the board of Abu Dhabi Racing, salvaged enough momentum to hold 3rd position on board his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total Team Car (Citroën DS3 RRC).
“The routes of the rally proved difficult for me to follow, which negatively impacted my speed during these stages, unlike the Qatari drivers who are familiar with their hometown. I was also cautious to avoid tyre punctures, which are very likely to take place due to the rough road surfaces of the rally stages”. Al Qassimi added: “We did some modifications in the hope that this would contribute to the overall performance of the car during the rest of today’s stages”.
Al Qassimi’s car (Citroën DS3 RRC) was subject to few suspension modifications in preparation for the second phase of the first day, and effectively closed the gap between Al Attiyah and Al Qassimi to 0.5s in SS4 in favor of the Qatari. The 5th phase brought a mishap to both Al Qassimi and co-driver Chris Patterson when the car’s cooling system punctured and spilled its fluid, but with great expertise and swiftness, the duo were able to use their drinking water for coolant, that of which allowed them to finish the final stage of the first day.
“We went through the same stages again, but the car’s cooling system busted at the end of the fifth stage leading to the 6th stage. The rally was extremely tough, with indefinite routes to follow and the danger of scattered rugged stones which pose a real threat to tyres. As I mentioned earlier, the advantage here is for the Qatari drivers who are accustomed to the terrain. Our objective for the second day is to maintain our position and finish the rally”, said Al Qassimi.
On the flip side, bad luck forced Abu Dhabi Racing Junior Team duo Juma Al Falasi/John Higgins to exit the fourth stage after 3 tyre puncture incidents between the second and third stage. Renowned co-driver Khalid Alkendi’s predictions came true when he earlier announced that the danger of punctured tyres at Qatar Rally is very likely to happen and that he expects these traps, which forced him and Mansoor Belhelei to withdraw and later continue the rally in its second day under “Super Rally” with Alfalasi and his co-driver.
Mohammed Al Mutawaa/Stephen Mcauley’s competition with last year’s 2WD champion and winner of the Youth Cup Mohammed Alsahlawi/Craig Parry was at its fiercest, but ended In Almutawaa’s favor, who was able to fence off last year’s blunders and claim 6th position in the overall ratings ahead of his team mate Mohammed Alsahlawi who finished 8th, with Saeed Bintouq coming in 12th position.
Qatar International Rally Results – First Day
1. Abdulaziz Alkuwari/Kilian Duff (Ford Fiesta) 1:06:48.02 hr
2. Nasser Al Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta) + 4.5s
3. Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson (Citroën DS3 RRC) + 2:57.3m
4. Masood Alsaleh/Suleiman Alhilal (Ford Fiesta) + 14:02.1m
5. Abdullah Alkuwari/Nicolas Arena (Ford Fiesta) + 14:35.1m
6. Mohamed Almutawaa/Stephan Mcauley (Citroën DS3 R3) + 19:21.9m
7. Alaa Rasheed/Joseph Matar (Ford Fiesta) + 20:04.2m
8. Mohammed Alsahlawi/Craig Parry (Citroën DS3 R3) + 22:23.6m
9. Yazeed Alrajhi/Michael Orr (Ford Fiesta) + 24:44.3m
10. Meshari Althefiri/Fahd Almutairi (Mitsubishi Evo10) + 27:09.1m
11. Saeed Almouri/Amr Refai (Skoda Fabia) + 29:40.2m
12. Saeed Bintouq/Allan Harryman (Citroën DS3 R3) + 35:08.04m
13. Mansoor Belhelei/Khalid Al Kendi (Citroën DS3 R3) + 39:18.06m
14. Juma Alfalasi/John Higgins (Citroën DS3 R3) + 47:02.4m