Quatar’s Adel Abdulla closed the gap on his T2 rival Ahmed Al-Shegawi to 23 points after claiming a dramatic victory in the Veszprém-based HunGarian Baja, the eighth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, on Saturday afternoon.
The Nissan Patrol Y62 driver and French navigator Jean-Michel Polato trailed the Saudi at the overnight halt, but a superb run through the first selective section on Saturday morning gave the QX Rally Team star the advantage.
Adel maintained that lead in difficult conditions to reach the finish 1min 09sec in front of his arch rival in the race to win the title for series production cross-country vehicles.
Adel said: « I am very happy about this result. Jean-Michel did a very good job as usual. I thank the team, the media, my sponsors, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, Ooredoo Qatar and Nissan Qatar for their support. It was a very tough race and we managed to take the win. »
Adel Abdulla complained that he had been blocked through Friday’s opening super special stage by a rival competitor, who had not moved out of his way in the dust, and that was the reason for the 18.6-second gap to the T2 leader at the start of the second day.
The Qatari had a good starting position on the road for the first run through the opening selective section of 219.50km, nonetheless. He clocked a time of 20min 42sec for the short first part of the timed test and that was 18 seconds faster than the time set by Al-Shegawi.
That should have put the Nissan driver 0.6 seconds behind his rival, but the Saudi had incurred a one-minute time penalty and Adel Abdulla inherited a one-minute outright lead to take into the longer second part of the stage.
Adel Abdulla completed the longer part of the stage in 2hrs 29min 39sec and that enabled the Qatari to extend his overall advantage to 2min 21sec on a section of the special where Romania’s Claudiu Barbu had dropped an hour to his two Arab rivals before retiring.
After service and a regrouping in Veszprém, Adel Abdulla headed for the repeat of the two sections with a T2 lead of 3min 20sec. Al-Shegawi clawed one minute back on the repeat of the shorter section, but the longer part of the stage was shortened to 153km and finished at PC2 because of inclement stage and weather conditions.
Adel reached the finish in a time of 1hr 41min 26sec and, even though Al-Shegawi beat him on the stage by 1min 12sec, the Qatari had done enough to secure the victory by 1min 09sec and close the gap on his rival in the T2 standings to 23 points.
Adel’s challenge for T2 honours this season is being supported by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Ooredoo Qatar and Nissan Qatar.
Action resumes in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies with Baja Poland on August 30-September 2.
2018 HunGarian Baja– T2 positions after SS5:
1. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Jean-Michel Polato (FRA) Nissan Patrol Y62, 5hrs 10min 31sec
2. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser, 5hrs 11min 40sec…
Claudiu Barbu (ROM)/Paul Spiridon (ROM) Nissan Navara, RETIRED
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – T2 standings after round 8:
1. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU), 183 points
2. Adel Abdulla (QAT), 160 pts
3. Yuliya Khegay-Migunova (RUS), 42 pts
4. Marat Abykayev (KAZ), 36 pts
5. Alexey Titov (RUS), 25pts
6. Anders Svensson (SWE), 15pts