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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 still in the Lead after stage 1

On the first of the tough desert tests, the 272-km Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority Special Stage Al-Aittyah partnered by Swedish lady co-driver Tina Thoerner powered his BMW X3 into a slender 26 seconds lead from the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution of defending champion Luc Alphand of France. Al Attiyah, the reigning FIA Middle East rally champion, had said before the start that he fancied his chances of becoming only the second Qatari to win the Desert Challenge title following on from Saeed Al Hajri in 1993

And while two of the foreign stars, Brazilian Paulo Nobre and Frenchman Bruno Saby, both had days to forget, Al Attiyah had one to savour as he left a trail of big international reputations behind. Three-times Desert Challenge champion Stephane Peterhansel of France in another Mitsubishi was third fastest on the stage followed by South African Giniel De Villiers and two-timer former World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz of Spain in a pair of Volkswagen Race Touaregs.

Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit in another BMW X3 completed the top six, and with just under six-and-half minutes separating the leading bunch, and Spain’s Joan "Nani" Roma just behind in a third works Mitsubishi Pajero, the battle for victory is wide open with four more days of tough desert driving ahead.

Spain’s reigning world champion Marc Coma began the defence of his Desert Challenge bikes title in convincing style, taking a 2 mins 29 secs lead from four-times winner in the UAE, Cyril Despres of France, with Spaniard Jordi Viladoms third fastest on the day as KTMs again dominated.

The Brasilian Paulo Nobre was an early casualty, badly damaging his BMW X3 in a crash, while Saby’s BMW was halted by mechanical problems and both plunged out of the running. At the end of the stage Al Attiyah said: "It was very good. I really enjoyed the stage and am very happy with my time." He commended co-driver Thoerner. "It was our first rally together and she did very well."

Peterhansel said: "Normally the first day is not your strongest performance. It’s a mix between dunes and fast tracks so it was really fast, and then we had to be careful not to make big mistakes in the dunes. The aim is not to take big risks but to train for the Dakar."

Former world downhill skiing champion Alphand commented: "The first day it’s hard to get acclimatised to the heat. I tried to drink as much water as I could but I still think I’m dehydrated. Sainz also felt the heat, particularly when he had to stop in the dunes after his VW punctured."

Provisional leading positions after Special Stage 1 Cars

01) Al Attiya / Thoerner (QA/S) I BMW X3 I 02:42:58
02) Alphand / Picard (F/F) I Mitsubishi Pajero Evo I 02:43:24
03) Peterhansel / Cottret (F/F) I Mitsubishi Pajero Evo I 02:43:54
04) De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz (ZA/ZA) I VW Race Touareg I 02:46:13
05) Sainz / Perin (E/F) I VW Race Touareg I 02:47:20
06) Chicherit / Baumel (F/F) I BMW X3 I 02:49:27
07) Roma / Cruz Senra (P/P) I Mitsubishi Pajero Evo I 02:51:20

Provisional leading positions after Special Stage 1 Motos

01) Marc Coma (E) I KTM M3 I 03:05:29
02) Cyril Despres (F) I KTM M3 I 03:07:58
03) Jordi Viladoms (E) I KTM M3 I 03:09:27
04) Pal Ullevalseter (N) I KTM M1 I 03:12:44
05) Francisco Lopez (CH) I KTM M3 I 03:13:27
06) James West (GB) I Honda M2 I 03:20:59
07) Michael Angerer (A) I KTM M1 I 03:24:52
08) Jean Azevedo (BR) I KTM M3 I 03:25:05
09) Ruben Faria (P) I KTM M1 I 03:27:53
10) Steve Blackney I (GB) Honda M2 I 03:28:44

2007/10/29 | 13:57 CET | Editor: MR/HS/UAEDC

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