Qatar’s Adel Abdulla is now just one tricky special stage away from confirming points for second position in the T2 standings at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, after surviving a tricky fourth loop stage through the Rub Al-Khali on Wednesday.
The Qatari is using a rented Nissan Safari Y61 to keep his T2 championship challenge on track with navigator Nasser Al-Kuwari but ceded further time to his rival Ahmed Shegawi on what turned out to be a tricky stage for the near-standard T2 cars.
Adel began the day 47min 53.9sec behind the Saudi driver and reached the finish of the 244.49km section in a time of 4hrs 53min 52sec. He heads into the last day trailing his rival by 57min 31.9sec.
Adel said: “We did a good job today until around PC1 and I managed to take around four minutes back. I was almost pushing too hard for the car and, after that, the engine temperature started to go up. The sand today was so soft.
“After PC2, the sand was much softer than before and I had a small accident in a big hole. I crossed the one set of dunes and then arrived in this hole. The car tried to go in the hole and I managed to stay out of it but hit a sand wall. Thankfully, only a little damage and the steering was slightly bent.
« Then we continued at that pace and finished 11 minutes behind. Thirty-six points for second place is very important for me so, maybe, I have to keep the pace like this to the finish and I will then only be behind him by six points in the T2 standings. »
Adel Abdulla is running his T2 programme with the crucial support of the Qatar government, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and Ooredoo Qatar.
The final selective section of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge takes place on Thursday and is sure to provide a sting in the tail, as crews head from Liwa back to the stage finish to the south of Abu Dhabi. The podium celebrations will then take place at Yas Marina in the afternoon.
The shorter 218.57km stage saw the outright lead change last year in dramatic circumstances and competitors will be aware that the UAE desert is unpredictable and can bite back at any moment.
2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – T2 positions after SS4:
1. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser, 19hrs 42min 25.7sec
2. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Nissan Patrol, 20hrs 39min 57.6sec
TBA. Yuliya Khegay-Migunova (RUS)/Aldis Vilcans (LVA) Toyota LC 200
TBA. Laurentiu-Claudiu Barbu (ROU)/Paul-Nicusor Spirodon (ROU) Nissan Navara 490hrs 16min 34sec