Qatar’s Adel Abdulla was embroiled in a gripping battle with Russian driver Alexey Titov through the super special stage and opening selective section of the Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally before losing time on the second of the icy and snowy competitive sections on Saturday afternoon.
The Qatari and navigator Nasser Al-Kuwari are taking part in the opening round of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in a bid to regain the FIA T2 World Championship in their Toyota Land Cruiser VDJ 200. They held second position in T2 at the end of the day behind Titov and ahead of Portugal’s Bruno Oliveira after slipping off the road and into a snow bank.
Running with support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and the Qatar Government, Adel now needs to recover the lost time over the remaining two stages on Sunday and try and amass as many points as possible.
Today we had a very good first stage and only dropped 27 seconds to the leader, said Adel Abdulla. But, on the second one, after around 50km from the start, on one corner there was part of an armoured car and I tried to avoid it and we slipped off the road and got stuck on the front left in a wall of snow. We lost a lot of time because the other T2 competitors didn’t stop to help and we had to wait until one of the local drivers pulled us out. We lost time to the leader, but we are still second and still have two stages to go and will try as hard as possible.
Action got underway on Friday afternoon with a Prologue stage of 17km and Adel clocked a time of 16min 39sec, which put him into second position in the T2 category, 50 seconds behind the Ford F-150 Raptor of Titov. Poland’s Tomasz Baranowski and Oliveira were third and fourth, while Russian Yuliya Migunova-Khegay rounded off the top five in a second Ford Raptor.
Titov managed to extend his advantage over Adel Abdulla by another 27 seconds through a hard fought opening selective section on Saturday morning and consolidated that advantage on the second one when the Qatari dropped 29 minutes after leaving the track and slipped behind Oliveira through the opening kilometres of the stage. The Qatari managed to recoup some of the lost time and retained second position.
The action concludes with a further two selective sections on snowy trails and forest tracks in the Suojarvi and Sortvala districts of the Republic of Karelia on Sunday before the ceremonial finish in the village of Vyartsilya.