|Abu Dhabi DC: Dubai´s Al Mutaiwei - "2nd stage was better suited to my car".|
Tuesday’s route turned south towards the sand dunes near Liwa and Dubai’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz managed to extend their virtual stage advantage over Schlesser to 2:12 mins by PC2.
After over more than an hour of further high speed action in the sweltering heat of the midday UAE sun, the pair remained split by 2:12 mins at the third of four passage control points before the stage finish.
Numerous drivers, including the UAE’s Mansoor Al-Helai, Britain’s Mark Powell, Italy’s Maurizio Traglio and Russian Boris Gadasin, began the second stage with 10 hours of time penalties for failing to complete the first of the legs on Monday.
Al-Mutaiwei reached the final passage control in 04:02:21 and that was sufficient to extend his stage lead over Schlesser to 10:01 mins heading into the final 20 or so minutes of the day’s special.
The Dubai driver knew that he would be running first on the road into the third leg on Wednesday, but his dream of winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was becoming a distinct possibility.
Al Mutaiwei and Schulz guided their X-raid Mini All4 Racing to the fastest time on the punishing second stage. Trailing Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser by 32:22 mins at the overnight halt at Qasr Al-Sarab, Al-Mutaiwei reduced the twice former Dakar winner’s overall advantage to an unofficial 24:36 mins.
Frenchman Patrick Sireyjol set the third fastest time on the day’s stage and the UAE’s Yayha Al-Helai finished 4th to retain third overall in his Nissan Patrol. The UAE’s Nabil Al-Shamsi was on course to move up to 5th position in the general classification at PC4.
"Everything is going according to plan," enthused Al-Mutaiwei. "This stage was better suited to my car and we managed to get some time back on the Buggy (Schlesser). There is still a long way to go, but we are in a good position and also need to be careful not to make a mistake."
2012/04/03 | 19:15 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/KTM