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This is the single-news section of the news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Morocco Rally: X-Raid´s Al Attiyah holds Fourth after first Leg.

The German X-Raid BMW-Team held fourth position after the opening leg of this year’s Guy Hoquet Rally of Morocco, a 245km special stage around Zagora, on Tuesday. Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec had pushed their BMW X3CC to within 1m 46s of the final podium position on the varied all-terrain stage, but trail a trio of Volkswagen Touaregs heading into the second leg. "We had a puncture and also broke a driveshaft," said Al-Attiyah. "Two small problems, but it cost us enough time to lose touch with the leading pair and dropped us behind Sousa. Sousa passed us when we stopped to change the wheel, but we passed him again afterwards. We will bounce back tomorrow."

Team mates Guerlain Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel had started brightly in the second official BMW X3CC, but they suffered an electrical problem two kilometres after the passage control at the 133km point and were forced to stop and change the main relay. The delay in the heat of a Moroccan morning cost them around 90 minutes, although Chicherit had been in a competitive pace before the problem and was sixth fastest through the first passage control, a mere 10 seconds behind American driver Mark Miller. He faces a climb back through the leaderboard on Tuesday from an unofficial 24th overall.

Brazilian Paolo Nobre and co-driver Filipe Palmeiro finished the stage down the leaderboard in just over 3h 10m after a minor sensor problem cost them crucial time. They held an unofficial 16th place with several drivers still to reach the finish on Tuesday afternoon.

X-Raid Team Manager Sven Quandt was pleased with the speed and competitiveness of the official X3s on the opening stage and realised that only minor problems had cost each of his top drivers a competitive finish. "When Nasser had a puncture and broke a driveshaft, that is valuable time gone but he was not pushing today. He has plenty in reserve at the moment. He is taking no risks. Guerlain was driving well until the problem and Paolo managed to hold off Carlos Sainz for around 75km at the start of the stage, so we take many positives into the next stage."

Spaniard Sainz heads into the second leg of the event a mere 34s behind South African team mate and overall rally leader Giniel de Villiers, with Portugal‘s Carlos Sousa just ahead of Al-Attiyah in third position.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) teams will tackle a second Zagora loop stage. The X-Raid Team will embark upon an 81km tarmac liaison to the start of the timed section at Ouled Driss, south of Zagora, and then a 327km special, before returning to Zagora on a 13km liaison.

In total there will be 421km in leg two, although the stage starts with a sandy section of around 20km, before a section of fast, rolling piste takes drivers to the passage control at the 185km point. The remainder of the stage takes place over a variety of gravel surfaces and finishes in a large valley at the village of Timettigue, although one section will be the fastest of the entire event and there will be a particularly twisty track to the village of Oujrame, where an assistance point has been planned for motorcycles.

The NPO insist that there will be several sandy sections in small dunes, a twisty section through some stunning terrain, jumps en route to the Tafenna crater, difficult navigation and sections through areas of population where care will be required.

2007/09/25 | 18:34 CET | Editor: MR/HS/X-Raid

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