Qatar’s Adel Abdulla knows the importance of seriously challenging for outright T2 victory in this week’s Rally Kazakhstan if he is to stand any chance of regaining the FIA T2 World Championship that he won in a Nissan Patrol in 2016.
After a cruel late mechanical issue at last month’s Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally saw him eventually cross the finish line of the final stage minutes after the time control had officially closed, the Qatari now trails T2 series leader Ahmed Al-Shegawi by 56 points in the title duel.
The Qatari and navigator Nasser Al-Kuwari held a massive lead in Qatar until the fateful late delay and that cost them 50 vital championship points and handed an additional 14 points to their rival. Such was the difficulty of the event in Qatar that no other driver managed to score points and Russia’s Yuliya Khegay-Migunova remains 27 points adrift of Adel in third place.
Adel said: « Qatar was a blow to the push for the championship. We lost out on the win on the last day with the mechanical problem and now we are 56 points behind. We need to forget about that now and focus on this race in Kazakhstan. My target is to win T2 here and do my best for the team, my country and my sponsors.
« Kazakhstan is going to be the longest race until now, just under 1,900 kilometres of special stages. It is going to be tough for six days. We had good experience here last year. This may be an advantage for us in this race. The target is to win and close the gap. There are still several rounds to go and we need to focus on this race and the other rallies. I still think we can do it. »
Rally Kazakhstan is a round of the FIA World Cup for a second season and has attracted a strong entry, none more so than in T2 where Al-Shegawi and Adel Abdulla face competition from the Kazakh duo of Marat Abykayev and Kirill Chernenkov and Russian driver Konstantin Ivanov.
Adel Abdulla’s campaign to win back the FIA T2 Championship comes with valuable support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Ooredoo Qatar and Nissan Qatar.
Rally Kazakhstan will be fought out over a revised route featuring six demanding selective sections and around 1,900km of competition in a compact route, starting with a timed section of 280.35km from Aktau City to a Caspian Sea Resort in Kenderly on May 28.
The rally will be based here for three nights, as teams tackle stages of 414.12km, 327.47km and 398.57km before returning to Aktau City. The last two stages of 298.04km and 148.52km head north out of the city, with the last one passing along the shoreline of the Caspian Sea before the ceremonial finish on June 2.
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – T2 standings after round 4: 1. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU), 125 points ; 2. Adel Abdulla (QAT), 69 pts ; 3. Yuliya Khegay-Migunova (RUS), 42pts ; 4. Alexey Titov (RUS), 25 pts…