|Pharaons Rally: UAE´s Khalifa Al Mutaiwei clinches FIA World Cup title 2012.|
Dubai’s Khalifa Al Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz clinched the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title by confirming outright victory in the "Pharaons Rally" in Cairo on Saturday.
Fazza Rally Team star Al Mutaiwei duly confirmed one of the greatest comebacks in international sport. Away from international rallying since he won the title for the first time in 2004, the UAE driver returned to the driving seat this season after a near eight-year absence and went on to win the title for the second time with his X-raid-built Mini All4 Racing.
The Emirati is only the second Arab driver in history to win the gruelling Pharaons Rally - his good friend Saeed Al-Hajri of Qatar won the event in a Porsche 959 in 1985 - after becoming the first Arab driver ever to win an FIA title back in 2004.
He is now the first Arab driver to win a major international, non-regional, championship on two occasions. Co-driver Schulz also became the first co-driver to win the title for the third successive occasion.
"I drove like a 75-year-old man in the stage today," said a delighted Al Mutaiwei at the finish in Cairo. "I counted every stone just to make sure I made it safely to the finish. I am so happy. I cannot find the words to express my feelings right now.
"I want to thank His Royal Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, for his full support and backing. Without this my return would never have happened. I would also like to thank Andy, my driver, the X-raid team and all the members of my team and friends for their support."
Al Mutaiwei began the final stage from fifth position on the road behind fifth stage winner Miroslav Zapletal, Aidyn Rakhinmbayev, Patrick Sireyjol and Jun Mitsuhashi after he dropped several minutes helping the stranded Sireyjol out of a sand hole on Friday.
It was vital that the Emirati stayed out of trouble on the 425km special stage between Tibniya and Cairo, which was later shortened by race officials. Al-Mutaiwei duly held on to secure the fourth fastest time and clinch the FIA World Cup title.
2012/10/09 | 21:24 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS