|Hungarian Baja: Russian Vasilyev leads in front of Gadasin and Zapletal.|
Dubai’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz were on target to take the lead in the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies after three timed special stages of the Baja Hungary on Saturday.
The Fazza Rally Team driver held an unofficial seventh overall after Saturday´s stage of the event and, more importantly, were well clear of arch title rival Jean-Louis Schlesser of France, who had lost considerable time on the first of the morning’s special stages. He was 5min 26sec behind the overall leader, Russian Vladimir Vasilyev.
Al-Mutaiwei, driving an X-raid Mini All4 Racing, held second after the timed super special stage on Friday evening, slipped to eighth after the first special on Saturday and climbed to seventh after the next stage.
“It is very hot here this weekend, more like Egypt than Hungary,” admitted Al-Mutaiwei, who has a different approach to his rallying this week. “I am attacking here. I feel more confident with every kilometre I do. I want to finish in first place.
“I have a different car here to the one I used in Spain. I am driving the car that was used by Stéphane Peterhansel and it has more upgrades and modifications. But my rival Jean-Louis Schlesser has also changed the car he is driving here. Maybe the terrain did not suit his Buggy, so he is driving an OSC Oscar 03 here.”
Al-Mutaiwei set the second fastest time through Friday evening’s shortened super special stage at Ifari Park in Györ. The Fazza Rally Team star recorded a time of 2min 09sec on the three-kilometre stage, which was just three seconds slower than the time set by former Russian winner Boris Gadasin.
Fellow Russian Vladimir Vasilyev was third – a further two seconds adrift – and Al-Mutaiwei’s title rival Schlesser was 10th, 13 seconds behind the Mini driver.
Crews tackled the first of four of Saturday’s timed stages at 10.45hrs (local time). The 51.80km test ran from Rába Híd to Pápoc over remote rural terrain and Gadasin set the target time of 33min 41sec in his G-Force Proto. Al-Mutaiwei recorded a time of 34min 37sec and slipped 59 seconds behind the Russian.
Vasilyev set the quickest time of 31min 31sec to move into the outright lead heading into the second 71.67km special stage. Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal and Hungarian Erik Korda also ran faster that the Dubai driver, who eventually slipped to eighth in the rankings. Rival Schlesser lost 13 minutes on the stage and fell out of contention.
It was crucial that Al-Mutaiwei responded on the second stage of the day. Vasilyev set the quickest time of 47min 39sec to edge into an outright lead of 2min 51sec over Gadasin, with Zapletal in third and Hungary’s Karoly Fazekas in fourth. Al-Mutaiwei recorded a time of 50min 01sec to stay in contention for the top five heading into a repeat of the morning’s stages on Saturday afternoon.
Action draws to a close on Sunday with a run through a 52.32km stage and a third pass through the 71.67km stage between Mihalyi and Vitnyed. The podium finish will take place in Györ later that afternoon.
Overall standings after day 02 Saturday
01) Vasilyev / Yevtyekhov (RUS) I G-Force Proto I 01:21:21
02) Gadasin / Kuzmich (RUS) I G-Force Proto I 01:24:12
03) Zapletal / Marton (CZ) I Hummer H3 Proto I 1:24:54
04) Fazekas / Horn (HU) I BMW X5 Proto I 01:25:21
05) Casuneanu / Zani (RO) I Mitsubishi Racing Lancer I 01:25:26
06) Korda / Fabian (HU) I Overdrive Toyota Hilux I 01:26:42
07) Al-Mutaiwei / Schulz (UAE) I Mini All4 Racing I 01:26:47
08) Cherednikov / Moroz (KZ) I G-Force Proto I 01:27:43
09) Kuznetsov / Elagin (RUS) I Mitsubishi MPR13 I 01:28:58
2012/08/25 | 19:16 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS