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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: X-Raid´s Al Attiyah takes massive lead

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner cruised to another emphatic stage win on the second leg of the 2008 UAE Desert Challenge on Tuesday. The X-raid team duo had completed the gruelling 296.75km special before any of their rivals had even reached the fourth passage control, 67km behind, and the flying BMW X3 CC driver now has a stunning overall lead of 1h 35m 01s.

Russian team mates Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin were delayed with a minor engine problem and a delay in soft sand early in the stage, but recovered to set the third fastest time and maintain second overall, as the punishing terrain took its toll on the rest of the field.

"It was another fantastic day for me, but the stage was not easy," said Al-Attiyah. "I remember driving this stage last year, but the sand was very soft in places today and it could be very difficult for some of the drivers. "We had a new suspension set-up and it worked well. I was able to push, find a nice line and a good rhythm. Tomorrow we may try another suspension set-up, but I will try and keep to a fast pace, without taking any risks."

"The objective of the entry in this rally was to test the car in extreme temperatures and we have been very pleased with the improvements we have made over the last few months," said X-raid director Sven Quandt. "We can see from the performance of the car that there is a big improvement. Today was very difficult. It was hot and the sand was soft. Nasser has a big lead and that gives us an opportunity to try a few new ideas and test some more over the next few days."

Twelve months ago Al-Attiyah had been embroiled in a fascinating tussle on the second leg of the UAE Desert Challenge with Frenchman Luc Alphand. The Qatari again led the surviving 37 cars into leg two but, on this occasion, Novitskiy was his closest challenger.

The X-raid duo started the selective section in slightly cooler morning temperatures than they had experienced with the later start from Abu Dhabi on Monday and Al Attiyah edged a further six minutes in front of Holowczyc at the first passage control (70.30km), which he reached in just under an hour.

But Novitskiy dropped seven minutes with a minor engine problem and was shadowed by the UAE’s Yayha Al-Helai through the passage control. Al-Attiyah continued his race into the distance through the second and third controls and had gained a further 10 minutes on his Polish rival at the 160.80km point.

Al-Helai passed Novitskiy heading into the second passage control, but the Russian shadowed the UAE driver to the third PC. Several drivers were running faster than the X-raid driver in the stage and the earlier delays pushed the Russian down to a virtual third in the overall classification behind Holowczyc.

Al-Attiyah cruised to the finish in just over 4h 08m, although none of his rivals had reached PC4 when the Qatari crossed the finish line. Holowczyc was delayed between PC3 and PC4 and Al-Helai and Novitskiy found themselves running back in second and third on the stage, positions they both held to the finish. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the second of the loop sections through the sand dunes and along the remote sand trails around Moreeb Hill and offers a selective section of 340.60km in a total route of 394.34km.

After a 54.30km run out to the stage start, there will be four passage controls at the 74.12km, 167.55km, 225.52km and 284km points, before teams return for a third night at Moreeb Hill.

2008/10/29 | 10:14 CET | Editor: MR/HS/X-Raid

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