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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: X-Raid´s Al Attiyah with his fourth stagewin

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner were in stunning form to move back up to third overall for the AlgoDyne Green Power Racing Team on the fourth desert selective section of the UAE Desert Challenge on Thursday. The pair started fifth on the road, but set a devastating pace to rightfully take their places at the front of the field once again, by comfortably setting the fastest time on the third 339.22km Moreeb loop section in the Rub Al-Khali.

Wednesday’s rear differential problems have cost the X-raid team the realistic chance of taking an outright victory, but Al-Attiyah now heads into the final day of the event in third overall, an unofficial 13m 29s behind new overall leader Stéphane Peterhansel and 3m 44s behind third-placed Carlos Sainz. "We will see what happens tomorrow, but it is a difficult task to make up so much time," said Al-Attiyah. "I will try my best, but at least we are back on the podium."

French team mates Guerlain Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel were classified 15th overall at the start of this morning’s special stage, after penalties dropped them to 30th on Tuesday’s timed section. They were running as high as third place on this morning’s stage before being sidelined with rear differential problems.

Brazilians Paulo Nobre and Filipe Palmeiro moved up from 26th overall to 20th place on leg two and began today’s loop stage in seventh place on the road and were running inside the top 10 throughout the special. They were in eighth position at the 306km point and finished the stage in 4h 36m 05s.

"It was another fantastic day for us," said team director Sven Quandt. "Nasser again drove a superb stage and the whole team is delighted that we are back in a podium position. It will be difficult for him to make up any more time tomorrow, because he is opening the road and I know from experience that the second stage, in particular, is very tricky. "We have learned a lot this week. There are some technical and reliability issues to resolve, but we have shown to the other teams that we are right up their on the top pace."

Al-Attiyah was in stunning form this morning, as he and Sainz set the early pace through the stage. Sainz held a slender 18-second advantage after PC1 and the 110km point, but Al-Attiyah’s dogged driving style saw him edge into a virtual three-second lead by PC2.

His advantage was up to five seconds at the 203 km point, as Sainz began to pressurize the leading Mitsubishis. But the Spaniard had his own fair share of problems before the third passage control and Al-Attiyah, who had started fifth on the road this morning, soon found himself running as the first car on the road again - a position that he had made his own since the opening super special stage on Sunday afternoon.

Chicherit started eighth and was soon up to third and in flying form, but he suffered rear differential problems before PC2 at 157.75km. At the third passage control Al-Attiyah led closest rival and new rally leader Peterhansel by 8m 10s, with Volkswagen’s Giniel de Villiers a further seven minutes adrift and a troubled Sainz even further behind. Overnight rally leader Luc Alphand hit serious suspension trouble in a sand hole between the 203 km point and the third passage control, as X-raid’s Paulo Nobre took full advantage to move up to seventh on the stage.

Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel were out on their own for the remainder of the stage, with the Frenchman shadowing the in-form Qatari through PC4 and the 306 km point. The X-raid driver eventually won the selective section by an impressive 8m 07s to move up to third in the overall standings and maintain a slender chance of upsetting the factory teams on the final two specials on Friday.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the final leg of this year’s UAE Desert Challenge and teams will tackle two timed selective sections between Moreeb and the finish in Dubai. A 118.50km liaison takes teams to the start of the opening 123.80km special, which has one passage control at the 83.15km point.

A second 103.80km liaison then guides the surviving cars to the start of the final 163.80km selective section, which has a passage control at 102.46km. A short 45.40km liaison takes the field back to the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) for the official podium ceremony.

2007/11/01 | 14:26 CET | Editor: MR/HS/X-Raid

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