– Qatari driver sets fastest time on second stage; Poland’s Piec leads
Qatar’s Adel Abdulla and French navigator Jean-Michel Polato held second position in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles after the opening two special stages of the 25th Italian Baja on Saturday morning.
The sixth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies is based at Pordenone in north-eastern Italy and marks a crucial points-scoring opportunity for the Qatari, who is bidding to reduce the 26-point gap to series leader Ahmed Al-Shegawi.
Action got underway with an 8.1km super special stage on Friday evening. Adel Abdulla clocked a time of 10min 49sec to settle into third position in the T2 category after suffering from an electronic sensor issue that had plagued the car on the shakedown stage earlier in the day.
The Polish duo of Tomasz Piec and Michal Marczewski clocked the fastest time in their Toyota Land Cruiser. Al-Shegawi and his French co-pilot Laurent Lichtleuchter were second but Tomasz Baronowski and Grzegorz Konczak were handed massive time penalties for failing to complete the stage in their Toyota LC155.
Saturday’s action took place on three runs through the 86.85km of the Valvadrom stage between San Lorenzo de Arzena and Valvazone. Competitors crossed a variety of demanding gravel river beds that usually carry late spring melt water from the nearby mountain ranges.
Adel Abdulla carded the fastest time of 1hr 19min 56sec for the opening run and moved up to second overall behind Piec after beating the Pole by 18 seconds. He trailed the leader by 1min 25.u7sec heading into the second pass through the stage. More importantly, the Qatari was 14min 16sec ahead of rival Al-Shegawi and held a 12min 55sec advantage over the Saudi with the electronic sensor issue now cured by team mechanics.
Adel said: « We had a problem with the sensor on the turbo on the shakedown. It was giving the wrong signal and the car was running in safe mode. We entered the super special and I did not push from the start. After 5km from the start, the car went into the safe mode again and we lost around 1min 40sec to the leader. The mechanics tried to fix the problem yesterday.
« We did a good job in the first stage today. Yesterday we were third and then we moved up to second place with the fastest time. The race is really tough. The stage is repeated three times and it will be very rough with the two stages tomorrow. It will be hard on the cars. »
Adel Abdulla’s campaign to win back the FIA T2 Championship is running with valuable support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Ooredoo Qatar.
After two further stages later on Saturday, the final action takes place on two passes through a special stage of 87.41km between Valvasone and San Lorenzo di Arzena on Sunday before the podium in Piazalle Venti Settembre in the centre of Pordenone.
2018 Italian Baja – T2 positions after SS2:
1. Tomasz Piec (POL)/Michal Marczewski (POL) Toyota Land Cruiser, 1hr 29min 19.3sec
2. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Jean-Michel Polato (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser, 1hr 30min 45.0sec
3. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser, 1hr 43min 40.1sec
Tomasz Baronowski (POL)/Gregorz Konczak (POL) Toyota Land Cruiser, RET