Adel Abdulla recovered strongly from missing two days of the Rally of Morocco with ECU issues and carded the second quickest time on the final selective section between Erfoud and Fes on Tuesday.
But the massive time penalties that the Qatari had incurred for missing Saturday’s and Sunday’s routes ultimately cost him dearly and he was unable to prevent Ahmed Al-Shegawi from claiming the category victory for T2 series production cross-country vehicles.
On arguably the toughest round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which ran with a dynamic new organisational team spearheaded by former Dakar organiser and navigator David Castera, teams faced daunting dunes, punishing heat, rocky tracks and difficult navigation.
Al-Shegawi’s success means that he has provisionally retained the FIA T2 World Championship.
Adel Abdulla, driving a Nissan Patrol Y62 as part of the QX Rally Team with French navigator Jean-Michel Polato, finished the event in third place behind the Russian driver Andrey Titov, who won the last stage in a time of 3hrs 30min 57sec. Adel Abdulla had the consolation of finishing as runner-up in the T2 World Championship after a long campaign, which was marred on more than one occasion by cruel luck.
Adel Abdulla said: “We finished the race in third position after all the problems we had at the end of day two. There was nothing we could do about it. The ECU burned. There were no mistakes by the team and we must just accept that. We fought hard to continue the race and we finished on the podium. This was important.
“Our rival has won the Morocco Rally (T2) and the championship is over. We tried our best to fight and win the race. What happened has happened. I wanted to do something special this year.
« I thank my team, my co-driver, Qatar’s Sports’ Minister Salah bin Ghanem Al-Ali, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and the QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai and all the people from my sponsors at Ooredoo and Nissan. Hopefully we can come back next year with more success. »
Adel Abdulla’s challenge for honours in Morocco came with the support of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Ooredoo Qatar and Nissan Qatar.
The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies reaches a conclusion with Baja Portalegre in Portugal at the end of October.
2018 Rally of Morocco – T2 positions after SS5
1. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Land Cruiser, 28hrs 15min 37sec
2. Alexey Titov (RUS)/Andrey Rusov (RUS) Ford F-150, 32hrs 22min 55sec
3. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Jean-Michel Polato (FRA) Nissan Patrol Y62, 413hrs 50min 56sec