|Sealine Rally Qatar: Peter Van Merksteijn Jun "An appetizing desert Rally".|
It was an exciting week in the desert for Peter van Merksteijn junior. For the first time in his career, he competed in a round of the FIA Cross Country World Cup. The driver from the Netherlands proved to be a fast learner. After a difficult start his efforts were rewarded with third place in the daily classification of the fourth and final leg of the Sealine Cross Country Rally in Qatar.
Everything was new for Peter van Merksteijn junior: the kind of event, the car and the method of navigating. He exchanged European asphalt for Arabian desert sand and a finely tuned World Rally Car for a robust Ford HRX, based on a former Mitsubishi Racing Lancer.
Also he had to learn how to find his way using a compass rather than using pace notes. “Luckily I had a trusted navigator sitting next to me. Though this rally was new to him he already competed in many more of these kinds of events.”
After the ceremonial start between the skyscrapers of Qatar’s capitol Doha, the 1500 kilometre long event completely took place in the emirate’s desert. Day one had a good start but half way the 400 kilometres long stage, power steering problems spoiled the party.
With quite a bit of trouble and a whole lot of delay the team eventually reached the finish. “It was quite a hazing”, Van Merksteijn junior concluded. Things already went a lot better on day two. This applies to both driving and the cooperation between driver and navigator. “We are making progress”, Chevaillier said. “Until we saw the left rear wheel passing us. It was going faster than we were!”
In the overnight bivouac the technicians of Wevers Sport repaired the car, making it possible for the team to normally start again the next day. With the exception of two flat tyres, all went well during leg three. Consequently after a five and a half hours ride through the dunes the team reached the finish in a neat seventh place. “The speed was good but we still lost to much time finding the right route.”
The Van Merksteijn Motorsport team saved the best for last. On the final day’s test four everything fell in its right place. The car’s setup was now perfectly suited to the rugged terrain and cooperation between driver and co driver went smoothly. And the result proved it. Behind world class drivers in this category like Jean-Louis Schlesser en Krysztof Holowczyc, the Dutch rookie reached third place only eight minutes behind the winner.
“We learned a lot during the first three days and today you can see the result”, said a happy Chevaillier at the finish. Van Merksteijn junior also was more than satisfied.
“We had a nice week and we definitely have to be thankful to the people of Wevers Sport. They really did an excellent job. We surely got the taste for this kind of event. How and when we don’t know yet, but this is definitely worth repeating.”
Overall positions after SS4 – 275.50km Sealine Rally CARS
01) Schlesser (FRA)/ Zhiltstov (RUS) | Schlesser | 16:11:33
02) Holowczyc (POL)/ Schulz (DEU) | Mini All4 | 16:42:51
03) Coffaro (VEN)/ Meneses (VEN) | Toyota Hilux | 17:30:45
04) Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/ Demiyanenko (RUS) | Toyota Hilux | 17:47:15
05) Zapletal (CZE)/ Marton (POL) | Hummer H3 Evo | 18:09:22
Overall positions after SS4 – 275.50km Sealine Rally BIKES
01) Marc Coma (ESP) | KTM 450 Rally | 17:09:57
02) Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) | Speedbrain 450 | 17:10:01
03) Jakub Przygonski (POL) | KTM 450 Rally | 17:13:13
04) Francesco Lopez (CHL) | KTM 450 Rally | 17:17:42
05) Juan Carlos Salvatierra (BOL) | Honda CRE F 500 X | 18:47:02
06) Quinn Cody (USA) | Speedbrain 450 | 19:35:31
Overall positions after SS4 – 275.50km Sealine Rally QUADS
01) Rafal Sonik (POL) | Honda TRX 700 | 21:28:41
02) Obaid Al-Kitbe (ARE) | Honda TRX 700 | 203:31:56
03) Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) | Yamaha Raptor 700 | 240:50:11
04) Pablo Copetti (ARG) | Yamaha Raptor 700 | 240:55:03
05) Mohammed Al-Shamsi (ARE) | Honda TRX 700 | 250:52:13
2013/05/02 | 20:15 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/VANMERKSTEIJN