– SS1: Fastest time for Alphand and the MINI JCW Buggy
– Three more special stages are on the agenda
It was a successful and difficult start for X-raid at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the third round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. After three days Jakub « Kuba » Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) are in second place overall in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally.
Stephan Schott (GER) and Paulo Fiúza (POR) currently hold the seventh overall position, followed by Eugenio Amos (ITA) and Filipe Palmeiro (POR). Both crews drive a MINI ALL4 Racing. Kris Rosenberger (AUT) and Nicola Bleicher (GER), also in a MINI ALL4 Racing, are currently in 18th place overall. Luc Alphand (FRA) and Andreas Schulz (GER) had to struggle with gearbox problems after their victory yesterday. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) and Timo Gottschalk (GER) could not compete today for health reasons.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge started on Saturday with the prologue at the Yas Marina Circuit. Przygonski secured the first place and Alphand took a very good fifth place after an eight year racing break. The three vehicles of Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Eugenio Amos and Kris Rosenberger had got stuck at the border and arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening.
The following day brought the rally train into the dunes of the Liwa Desert and Alphand added one more. The Frenchman secured victory on the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy ahead of Przygonski in the MINI JCW Rally. Alphand received a two-minute time penalty afterwards, but this did not detract from the joy at the strong performance. « I am super happy » said the Frenchman. « We started the stage in second place and after some time we were able to catch up with the Toyota in front of us. We had to open two thirds of the stage, but Andi did a great job. The buggy is the right vehicle for this type of dunes. Al-Rajhi finished seventh. Amos, who had started directly into the rally without shakedown and prologue, could quickly get used to the MINI and brought home eleventh place. Rosenberger, who also started into the race without familiarization with the car, crossed the finish line two positions behind him.
The second special stage in the Liwa Desert brought some challenges. Przygonski finished the day in fourth place after getting stuck. « I am satisfied with the progress so far, » said the young Pole. « The rally is not easy, but very fast. The first two days went very well for us. Today we got stuck and had to dig out the vehicle. Cyril Despres pulled us out later – thanks to him again. » Schott got through without any major problems and crossed the finish line in seventh place. Amos came 15th. Rosenberger finished the stage two on the 24th place.
Three days in the Liwa Desert are still on the agenda. On Thursday the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge ends again on the Yas Marina Circuit.
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Overall result after SS2*:
1. M. Prokop (CZE)/J. Tomanik (CZE) Ford, 7h 19m 06.9s
2. J. Przygonski (POL)/T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally, 7h 29m 37.1s
3. K. Al-Qassimi (UAE)/X. Panseri (FRA) Peugeot, 7h 31m 01.1s
4. Y. Seaidan (KSA)/A. Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota, 7h 34m 31.8s
5. C. Despres (FRA)/S. Ravussin (SUI) Ford, 7h 38m 23.5s…
7. S. Schott (GER)/P. Fiúza (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing, 8h 51m 56.7s
8. E. Amos (ITA)/F. Palmeiro (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing, 9h 02m 43.2s…
18. K. Rosenberger (AUT)/N. Bleicher (GER) MINI ALL4 Racing, 10h 24m 14.2s…
23. L. Alphand (FRA)/A. Schulz (GER) MINI John Cooper Works Buggy, 16h 30m 52.3s…
32. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA)/T. Gottschalk (GER) MINI John Cooper Works Rally, 127h 01m 08.2s
*Stand 16:45 o’clock