|Pharaons Rally: Al Mutaiwei - "Wish that Schlesser had stayed in the event".|
Dubai’s Khalifa Al Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz closed in on the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title on the fifth selective section of the Pharoahs International Cross-Country Rally between Abu Mingar and Tibniya on Friday.
They began the stage from third in the running order and finished in 05:13:20 hours, but that was largely irrelevant after arch title rival Jean-Louis Schlesser was excluded from the event on Thursday evening for a technical infringement.
After a random check by an FIA technical scrutineer, Schlesser’s Buggy was deemed to be running with an illegal 37.2 mm air restrictor, which was outside the tolerances laid down in the FIA World Cup regulations.
The Frenchman did not appeal the decision and is now relying on Al-Mutaiwei not to finish the final stage on Saturday if he is to have any chance of winning the FIA World Cup title.
"I wish that Jean-Louis Schlesser had stayed in the event," said Al Mutaiwei. "It was a challenging fight between us, but that is rallying! I must stay focused until the end because we are not done yet and there is still one more long day to go."
Al Mutaiwei began the penultimate 422 km stage behind Sireyjol and Delahaye and had passed Delahaye by the second passage control. The Frenchman overtook Al Mutaiwei again, but the stage result was immaterial.
It was a matter of Al Mutaiwei keeping his Mini out of trouble over the closing kilometres to stay on course for a second FIA World Cup title.
The all-important final stage on Saturday heads from Tibniya to Cairo, where the podium finish will take place in the afternoon.
2012/10/09 | 12:41 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS