– Poland’s Przygonski extends FIA World Cup lead with second; Vasilyev third in MINI 1-2-3
– Russia’s Ivanov wins T2 category; Navarro holds on to beat Pena Campo in T3
Yazeed Al-Rajhi held his nerve to confirm an impressive victory in Rally Kazakhstan, round five of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, in Aktau City on Saturday.
Needing to stay in front of X-raid MINI John Cooper Works Rally team-mate and FIA World Cup leader Jakub Przygonski through the final 148.52km special, the Saudi Arabian driver and German navigator Timo Gottschalk set the fastest time on the timed section and reached the finish 4min 07sec in front of the Pole and his Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul. The result enabled Przygonski to extend his lead in the FIA World Cup standings to an unofficial 43 points.
A delighted Al-Rajhi said: « We made it. We are here. We also had a puncture before the finish but it was okay. I started seventh. There was a lot of dust in the road. If there was a team order we would have respected it, but no team order was coming so we took the win. I am very happy. »
Przygonski added: « It was a nice rally for us and the outcome went down to the last day. We were pushing to the end. It was a long race with a lot of navigation, fast piste and some tricky dunes. We had no big problems. It was a nice fight with Vasilyev and Yazeed to the end. The time difference was small and, on a long race like this, that was really nice. »
The Russian duo of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov delivered another solid performance in their MINI Cooper Countryman to round off the podium positions for MINI with the third fastest time on the final stage. Zhiltsov said: « It was a good fight for 2,000km and only some minutes between the cars. We are happy that we finished and look forward to coming back to this great race next year. »
X-raid team director Sven Quandt was happy: « 1-2-3 is good and five cars in the top six is a top result and the best for a long time, no question. Everyone drove a good race. Yazeed was a little bit faster and Kuba (Jakub) too and Vladimir drove a good race. It was always an open race since the first stage. »
Czech driver Martin Prokop could not match the MINIs on this occasion but the former WRC star remained in the hunt for the FIA World Cup with points for fourth place in his Ford F-150 Evo. “No problems today. It was good. The race was quite nice. The result is not as we wished. We will see next time.