|Sealine Rally Qatar: Overdrive Toyota crews finishing 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th.|
The Polish Overdrive Toyota duo of Marek Dabrowski and Adam Malysz completed the demanding five-day "Sealine Cross-Country Rally", round four of the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, in third and fourth overall in their Team Orlen cars to keep their hopes alive in the title race.
Held in punishing heat over five desert selective sections, where the emphasis was on the co-driver and accurate navigational skills, Malysz and navigator Maciej Marton fell behind FIA World Cup leader Vladimir Vasilyev on the final stage and then slipped behind their Polish colleagues Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor late in the stage and finished fourth.
The Brazilian duo of Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin were fifth in the third of the surviving Toyota Hiluxes. Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah confirmed the overall victory.
Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi – the winner of the Russian and Italian Bajas with the Toyota team – held second overall for a time before a series of four punctures cost him dearly and the Saudi damaged the rear axle of his Hilux trying to reach the finish of the third stage. Business commitments meant that Kazakh driver Kanat Shagirov was forced to miss the event in the fifth Overdrive Toyota.
"A big thanks to all my team for their hard work over the last month in Abu Dhabi and then here in Qatar," said Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin. "It’s a little frustrating not to have challenged harder for second position, because I really felt that Yazeed could match and beat Vladimir and gain some more championship points. Maybe we were a little inconsistent at times. It was good to see Reinaldo win the stage today and to have three cars inside the top five of such a difficult rally is no mean feat."
Twenty-two cars started the international section of the five-day rally and Al-Attiyah snatched the early advantage in the short opening 164.18km stage. Dabrowski and Varela had been as high as third and fourth overall after the second passage control, but the Pole rolled near the finish and the Brazilian was badly delayed with navigational woes.
The four Overdrive Toyotas duly began the punishing second 396.46 km loop stage from fourth, fifth, eighth and 13th overall, with Al-Rajhi and Malysz leading the way. The Saudi hung on to Al-Attiyah’s coat tails through the early kilometres and was holding a strong second position until the lost his way no less than three times and finished the stage in third.
"I started well and was driving well," said the Saudi. "Then we lost our way. It is easy to do that in Qatar. There were three Minis going round and round until one of us found the track. I lost four or five minutes, but the goal was to be in front of Vladimir (Vasilyev) and I achieved that."
Dabrowski, Malysz and Varela reached the stage finish with the fifth, sixth and seventh quickest times and held seventh, fourth and 10th overall at the overnight halt.
The third loop stage of 411.76 km was the longest of the entire event and covered much of the remote south of Qatar. Al-Attiyah continued to edge in front, but Varela enjoyed a useful stage performance and finished second behind the Qatari and climbed to sixth. The fourth and fifth times for Malysz and Dabrowski moved them up to third and fourth overall, but that was at the expense of Al-Rajhi.
The Saudi had been running as high as second on the stage before collecting a series of three flat tyres. He only carried three spare wheels on the Hilux and, when he punctured for a fourth time and tried to continue on the rim, he damaged the rear of the car and the axle failed before the final series of sand dunes. The mistake cost the Saudi his place on the leader board and he retired.
The fourth stage was the most difficult in terms of navigation and many of the leading drivers had problems. Malysz followed Dabrowski to the stage finish in convoy and the pair recorded the fourth and second quickest times. That was sufficient for Malysz to overhaul Vasilyev and snatch second overall. Dabrowski and Varela were fourth and fifth heading into the final 362.97km special.
Vasilyev managed to find a way past Malysz to claim second on the final stage and Dabrowski also edged in front of his Team Orlen colleague to snatch third. Varela was in superb form and the fastest time of the day confirmed that he finished in a solid fifth position. In a compact total Sealine Cross-Country Rally route of 1,912.95 km, 1,739.55 km were competitive.
Final Overall results CARS Top 10 Sealine Qatar
01) Al Attiyah / Baumel (QT/F) | X-raid Mini All4 | 17:22:51 | 00:00:00
02) Vasilyev / Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS) | X-raid Mini All4 | 18:39:47 | 01:16:56
03) Dabrowski / Czachor (PL/PL) | Toyota Overdrive | 19:09:47 | 01:46:56
04) Malysz / Marton (PL/PL) | Toyota Overdrive | 19:33:51 | 02:11:00
05) Varela / Gugelmin (BRA/BRA) | Toyota Overdrive | 19:47:21 | 02:24:30
06) Zapletal / Marton (CZ/PL) | Hummer H3 Proto | 20:30:42 | 03:07:51
07) Cherednikov / Tsyro (KZH/UKR) | Toyota Overdrive | 21:20:20 | 03:57:29
08) Sazonov / Sakhimov (KZH/KZH) | Hummer H3 Proto | 27:01:27 | 09:38:36
09) Al Kitbi / Mirza (UAE/UAE) | Nissan Proto | 29:29:36 | 12:06:45
10) Khneisser / Kruis (UAE/UAE) | Nissan Proto | 29:46:29 | 12:23:38
FIA CC World Cup Top 10 after round 4 (unofficial)
01) Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) | 135 pts
02) Marek Dabrowski (PL) | 70 pts
03) Adam Malysz (PL) | 66 pts
04) Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) | 60 pts
04) Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QT) | 60 pts
06) Miroslav Zapletal (CZ) | 48 pts
07) Reinaldo Varela (BRA) | 46 pts
08) Boris Gadasin (RUS) | 27 pts
09) Yayha Al-Helai (ARE) | 24 pts
10) Martin Kaczmarski (PL) | 22 pts
2014/05/03 | 16:59 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS