|Pharaons Rally: Al Mutaiwei wins in front of Delahaye and Zapletal after SS6.|
Winning both the rally and the 2012 World Cup, the "Pharaons Rally" 2012 was exceptional for Khalifa Al Mutawei and Andreas Schulz. Driving a X-raid Mini All4 Racing, the driver from the Emirates and his German navigator reached all their objectives this week.
The victory uncertain until the disqualification of French FIA World Cup winner Jean Louis Schlesser for an irregular air intake, the result was then sealed thanks to an insurmountable lead over the rest of the field.
"It was a very positive result, and a great rally with excellent organization. We raced over varied terrain, like we will find in Perù. The disqualification of Schlesser certainly made our victory easier, but we will still attend the final round in Portugal with the new Mini" said Al Mutaiwei.
Two stage wins (the first and the third) versus one for Schlesser, one for Patrick Sireyjol, one for Miroslav Zapletal and, finally, the last stage won by Frenchman Regis Delahaye, was the total for his week. Six very intense days during which all of the drivers held nothing back.
Russian Boris Gadasin was particularly unlucky, along with his G-Force teammate Vladimyr Vaslyev, as both were forced to retire from the race.
On the other hand it was a solid performance from the French contingent, particularly Régis Delahaye who overcame mechanical problems just 800 meters from the stage four finish, and a one-hour penalty for losing his time card.
The MD Buggy nevertheless maintained second place in the standings, with a 14 minute lead over third place finishers Miroslav Zapleta/Maciej Marton, and 16 minutes over the fourth placed team of Patrick Sireyjol-François Beguin.
"We ran a great Rally, carrying out a lot of testing here in Egypt" said Delahaye. "The victory didn’t come, but at least we got some satisfaction by winning the final special stage. I gave it my best in today’s stage, and I’m satisfied with the evolution of the buggy, even if it still struggles on uneven terrain."
Two of the three Team Dessoude cars managed to finish the rally: The Cinotto family experienced quite an adventure, as did Michele (the father) who was lost for four hours in the Egyptian desert. He still managed to finish in 13th place behind the wheel of his Junke Buggy, while his son Piero drove his Nissan Pathfinder to 18th.
Jun Mitsuhashi and Alain Guehennec made up for their 2011 disappointment (retiring on the final stage) by winning the T2 category this time around. They beat out Nicolas Gibon-Akira Miura, also in a Toyota, giving the Japanese manufacturer an impressive double.
It has never been done before: The winner of the "Dakar Challenge", the Egyptian team of Tarek El Erian-Aly Mohamed in the Batmobile Buggy Cotel, has secured an entry into next season’s Dakar.
"It’s the best we could have hoped for" said Daniele Cotto. "A young Egyptian driver, who is also a friendly a kind person; he really deserved to achieve this dream." Xavier Gavory, head of competitor relations for ASO, greeted the team at the Pyramids, and they will be the first Egyptians to participate in a South American Dakar.
2012/10/09 | 17:42 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/BAUER