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UAE Desert Challenge 2008 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the UAE Desert Challenge 2008, 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: Despres squeezes ahead of Coma in the UAE

The UAE Desert Challenge can be as cruel as it is spectacular, and that fact will certainly not be lost on Nasser Al-Attiyah, despite the huge lead he holds with two days remaining. At the end of the traditionally tough and unforgiving Nissan Special Stage 3 today (Wednesday), the Qatari, bidding to become the first Arab driver to win the event since 1993, was a massive 2hrs 51 mins ahead of his closest challenger, the UAE’s Yahya Alhelei who had to drive carefully for much of the day with broken shock absorbers.

Given a huge advantage by his 2009 prototype BMW X3, Al-Attiyah was in a class of his own, particularly after Russian driver Leonid Novitskyi, lying second overnight in another BMW X3, plunged dramatically from contention on the punishing 340-km stage.

Novitskyi’s misfortune promoted Alhelei to second position in his brand new production class Nissan Patrol, and the tenacious Emirati driver, like the runaway leader, knows the battle is far from over in the last round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

Over the years the hopes of many top challengers, including Al-Attiyah, have been wrecked in moments among the sabka plains and towering dunes of the Empty Quarter.

While a procession of cars toiled through the Nissan stage, which had begun in light early morning mist, the Russian combination of Vladimir Chagin, Sergey Savostin and Anatoly Tahin produced a stunning display in one of the two Kamaz trucks entered, finishing the day in third place overall.

Fittingly, the Nissan stage saw some other notable Nissan performances. UAE-based Laurent Rosso moved into fourth position overall in a Nissan Pathfinder while Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc in a Nissan Navara and the UAE’s Abdulla Alheraiz in a Nissan Patrol completed the top six.

After snatching the lead on the previous day in his pursuit of a hat-trick of open class bikes victories in the Desert Challenge, Spain’s Marc Coma was unable to prevent KTM team-mate Cyril Despres of France moving ahead, albeit by just four seconds.

The Chilean rider, Francisco Lopez, remained in third place, with UAE-based British rider James West, Spaniard Jordi Viladoms and Frenchman Alain Duclos completing the top six.

In the 450cc class, Portugal’s Ruben Faria extended his lead over UAE-based Irish rider Dave McBride to almost 42 minutes, with South African Sean Gaugain another 15 minutes adrift in third place.

In the battle of the quads, Frenchman Lionel Laine finished the day holding a nine-minute lead over fellow-countryman Eric Vergnes, who was followed by the UAE’s Mohammed Al Shamsi.

At the end of the gruelling Nissan stage, Al Attiyah revealed that he had one awkward moment in an otherwise perfect day. He said: “Today was good but in the last 30km we did get stuck in the dunes and had to get the sand plate out. We lost a couple of minutes.”

Alhelei finished the stage to say: “It was a nice stage but we had a major problem at 50km with the shock absorbers breaking. We travelled almost 300km without the shock absorbers so we had to keep our speed reduced. At one point we had to let a Kamaz truck go by. But I’m happy with our position.”

While Despres and Coma continued their private tussle for the open bikes title, fourth-placed West had an on-off day. “With the foggy start, it was like a winding road in Scotland,” he said.

“The stage today didn’t allow you to relax at all. In fact in the first 20km I came off the bike three times because of the soft sand. The middle part was ok and in the last part again I had the same problems, coming off the bike several times.”

Provisional leading positions after Nissan Special Stage 3

1. Nasser Al Attiyah / Tina Thorner (QA /S) BMW X3 T1 11:18:37
2. Yahya Alhelei / Khalid Alkendi (UAE / UAE) Nissan Patrol T2 14:10:27
3. Vladimir Chagin/Sergey Savostin/Anatoly Tahin (RUS) Kamaz 4911 14:17:58
4. Laurent Rosso / Fabian JC Lurquin (UAE / B) Nissan Pathfinder T2 15:26:15
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc / Jean-Marc Fortin (PL / B) Nissan Navara T1 15:51:19
6. Abdulla Alheraiz / A.Haleem Bin Zayed (UAE/UAE) Nissan Patrol T2 17:04:28
7. Joseph Rosso / Jean M.J.A. Lurquin (UAE / B) Nissan Pathfinder T2 17:07:45
8. Steven Rotsaert / Dirk Dendooven (B / B) Bowler Wild Cat T1 18:19:10
9. Aurelijus Petraitis / Antanas Juknevicius (LT / LT) Oscar T1 18:22:52
10. Bruce Garland / Harry Suzuki (AUS / J) Isuzu D-Max T1 22:34:12

1. Cyril Despres (F) KTM Rally Replica/690 11:59:10
2. Marc Coma (E) KTM Rally Replica/690 11:59:14
3. Francisco Lopez (RCH) KTM Rally Replica/690 12:07:50
4. James West (GB) KTM 690/690 12:30:00
5. Jordi Viladoms (E) KTM Rally Replica/690 12:49:26
6. Alain Duclos (F) KTM/690 12:51:25
7. Tim Trenker (D) KTM 0/660 12:53:56
8. Miran Stanovnik (SLO) KTM Rally Replica/690 12:59:17
9. Paul Rivet (F) KTM LC4/660 13:03:37
10. Jakub Przygonski (PL) KTM Rally Replica/690 13:06:26

2008/10/30 | 11:26 CET | Editor: MR/UAE Desert Challenge/Rita Konya

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