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UAE Desert Challenge 2007 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the UAE Desert Challenge 2007, last round of the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

UAE Desert Challenge: Al Attiyah - I’ll be back for Desert Challenge win.

Dashing Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah quickly buried his latest UAE Desert Challenge setback to confirm that he will back chasing victory in the dramatic World Cup event next year. After seeing his chances of winning the event shattered by mechanical and electrical problems in his BMW X3, Al-Attiyah might have been forgiven for thinking that he is suffering from a Desert Challenge jinx.

But the reigning FIA Middle East rally champion said: "These things happen in rallying, and you just have to accept them. But I hope to be back next year and I want to win." After the first two days Al-Attiyah was well on course to become the first Arab winner of the Desert Challenge since fellow-Qatari Saeed Al Hajri clinched the title back in 1993.

He led the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution of defending champion Luc Alphand of France by 7 mins 20 seconds, and his new Swedish lady co-driver, Tina Thörner, felt the Qatari was simply the best in the field. "Everybody had told me about Nasser but I didn’t know how good he was until now," she said. "He’s driving very fast but he makes it look so easy."

But the 277-km Nissan Special Stage 3 brought disaster for Attiyah, as a broken rear differential forced him to cover the last 50kms in two wheel drive and he slumped to fourth, more than 24 minutes off the lead. As Alphand and Carlos Sainz hit trouble on day three, Al-Attiyah won the ADNOC stage by more than eight minutes to go third, slashing the gap to new leader Stéphane Peterhansel almost in half.

When the final leg cut through the desert back towards Dubai on Friday, Al-Attyah turned up the power again and seemed poised to take second place from Sainz before electrical failure shattered his challenge 20kms from the end of the final Emarat Special Stage.

A triumphant Peterhansel celebrated his fourth Desert Challenge win in six years, and his sixth overall. The brilliant Frenchman had also won the bikes title in 1996 and 1997 at a time when he dominated the Dakar Rally on two wheels. It would have been interesting to see him tackle Spain’s Marc Coma, who successfully defended his bikes crown in the UAE while clinching the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for a third time.

Meanwhile, second place behind Peterhansel allowed Sainz to bridge a 15-year gap as he added the drivers title in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup to his 1990 and 1992 World Rally Championship triumphs. Despites last leg delays caused by broken radiator, the UAE’s Yahya Alhelei held on to a splendid fifth place overall in his Liberty Prototype.

2007/11/02 | 13:57 CET | Editor: MR/HS/UAEDC

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