– Gutierrez and Jones lead FIA T3 and T4 categories heading to Kazakhstan
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah holds a seven-point advantage over Carlos Sainz as several of the leading contenders descend upon the Republic of Kazakhstan this week to continue the battle for supremacy in the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. Rally Kazakhstan takes place over five desert selective sections between June 9th-13th.
The championship kicked off in southern Spain last month with the Andalucia Rally and this year’s expanded series will see competitors visit the Silk Way Rally in early July, Portugal and Morocco in September and October and then conclude with back-to-back events in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia in November and early December.
Al-Attiyah and Sainz were closely matched in Spain, with the Qatari pinching a second successive win and his Toyota team-mate Yazeed Al-Rajhi finishing third overall. The Saudi sealed victory in Kazakhstan in 2018 and will be hoping to boost his title bid with a repeat success against a strong line-up of international challengers.
Among the 41 entries received by the Automotorsport Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan (AMFK) in the FIA section are a number of leading contenders in both the FIA T3 and T4 categories. The popularity of both has given a major boost to cross-country motor sport and made it one of the fastest growing disciplines in the global calendar.
Spanish female star Cristina Gutierrez will arrive on the shores of the Caspian Sea attempting to defend the 10-point T3 advantage she earned in Andalucia. She drives one of two OT3 off-road machines prepared by Overdrive Racing, the other being in the hands of Belgium’s Guillaume de Mevius. He showed an impressive speed in Spain but came away pointless from his first event in the car.
Gutierrez’s closest challenger after round one is the Spaniard Fernando Alvarez and he also makes the trip to Kazakhstan to continue his challenge for honours in a South Racing Can-Am.
Other T3 racers who featured in the top 10 in Spain and have entered Rally Kazakhstan include José-Luis Pena Campo (Polaris), Jean-Pascal Besson (Can-Am) and Enrico Gaspari (Polaris). They face further competition from the likes of G-Force Motorsport’s Boris Gadasin and Andrey Novikov and Anvar Ergashev and Pavel Lebedev.
Nine entrants grace the entry list in the FIA T4 category, with the Monster Energy Can-Am driver Austin Jones arriving in Aktau City with a nine-point cushion over Qatar’s Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah.
South Racing-built Can-Ams dominated the opening round in Spain and Dutchman Kees Koolen, Chile’s Hernan Garces and Argentina’s David Zille fill the top five places in the championship standings.
Koolen and Garces are also making the trip to Kazakhstan, where they will face further resistance from AMFK President Marat Abykayev (Yamaha YXZ 1000R) and additional Can-Ams in the hands of Italy’s Eugenio Amos, Argentina’s Diego Martinez, Germany’s Annett Fischer and Spain’s Ricardo Suarez.
Initial administration and technical checks will be held next Tuesday (June 8th) before the ceremonial start takes centre stage in Aktau City from 20.00hrs the same evening.
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – current standings: 1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT), 29pts ; 2. Carlos Sainz (ESP), 22pts ; 3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU), 17pts ; 4. Erik van Loon (NLD), 12pts ; 5. Mattias Ekström (SWE), 10pts ; 6. Zala Vaidotas (LTU), 10pts ; 7. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP), 7pts ;
8. Laia Sainz (ESP), 4pts ; 9. João Ferreira (PRT), 2pts ; 10. Denis Krotov (RUS), 1pt.
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – FIA T3: 1. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP), 28.5pts ; 2. Fernando Alvarez (ESP), 18.5pts ; 3. Eric De Seynes (FRA), 15pts ; 4. Jean-Pascal Besson (FRA), 12pts ; 5. José-Luis Pena Campo (ESP), 10pts ; 6. Mitchell Guthrie (USA), 9pts ; 7. Annett Fischer (DEU), 6pts ; 8. Edouardo Sanchez (ESP), 4pts ; 9. Roberto Gamboa (ESP), 3pts ; 10. Enrico Gaspari (ITA), 1pt.
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – FIA T4: 1. Austin Jones (USA), 29.5pts ; 2. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT), 20.5pts ; 3. Kees Koolen (NLD), 15pts ; 4. Hernan Garces (CHL), 12.5pts ; 5. David Zille (ARG), 11pts ; 6. Lucas Del Rio (CHL), 8pts ; 7. Nazareno Lopez (ARG), 6pts ; 8. Jean-Claude Pla (FRA), 4pts ; 9. Jordi Segura (ESP), 2pts ; 10. Andre Thewessen (NLD), 1pt.