UAE: Al Attiyah and Walkner top Abu Dhabi Challenge leader board after second stage

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah

 

QASR AL SARAB (UAE) –Monday, April 3rd 2017: Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah found himself alongside Austrian KTM Red Bull Factory team rider Matthias Walkner at the top of the leader board of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge POWERED BY NISSAN, after the second 289.39km Nissan stage of the event through the Rub Al-Khali on Monday

The Toyota driver claimed the fastest time on the day’s stage, held in punishing heat across the mighty dunes of the UAE. Al-Attiyah’s stage win meant he extended his lead over Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi to 23min 03sec heading into the night halt at Qasr al Sarab.

“Today was a good day for us. It was not an easy stage. The stage is called Nissan. It is very difficult and hard. We just need to take care. To win by a big gap and have a big lead from Al-Qassimi is good,” said Al-Attiyah.

Sam Sunderland’s starting position meant that the overnight leader was hardly going to win the day’s stage and the Dakar champion ceded time to his rivals in the motorcycle category. Husqvarna’s Pierre Alexandre Renet began the day fifth on the road and pressed on to take the stage win from Monster Energy Honda’s Paolo Gonçalves.

Mohammed Al-Balooshi

Mohammed Al-Balooshi

New overnight leader Walkner was third quickest. “I did not know that I was leading),” said the Austrian after the finish. “Saying that, tomorrow they take the gap back. Hopefully I can finish on the podium. Tomorrow, the guys will take three or six minutes and the lead is changing again. It has been a good two days and I feel more confident riding in the dunes. I get into it and I enjoyed it.”

Sunderland said: “You always lose time when you start in front. I opened all the way for nearly 300km (the stage) and only Pablo (Gonçalves) and Matthias physically caught me. Of all the riders here, that meant it was a good day. This race is strange with the strategy, you know. You kind of swap times each day. Tomorrow I start back and it will be the opposite. You just have to take each day as it comes. It’s been really hot the past few days and it’s really unpredictable out there. The bike is good. I am happy. The team have done a great job.”

Stage winner Renet was upbeat: “Yes, really happy. Today I start five, so it’s easier for me because I have the line and the tracks. It’s good to have a win at this rally. The heat is really high and, with the sun, you do not see so easy. I guess it is the same for everyone.”

Pierre Alexandre Renet claimed the motorcycle stage win for Husqvarna

Pierre Alexandre Renet claimed the motorcycle stage win for Husqvarna

Al-Attiyah began the gruelling loop stage with a cushion of 11in 35.1sec over Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux driver pressed home his advantage from the front for the second day in the cars. Czech driver Martin Prokop produced another useful performance in the Jipocar Ford F-150 Evo to set the fourth quickest time behind Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa and the former WRC star leapt into third place in the overall rankings. Russian Vladimir Vasilyev got stuck in the dunes and slipped to fifth.

Poland’s Kamil Wisniewski maintained his lead in the quads from a charging group, even though the day’s stage win went to the Dutchman Kees Koolen on a Barren Racer One 690. Wisniewski now leads the class by 5min 42.8sec from Kuwait’s Fahad Al-Musallam.

“It’s been another very difficult day at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with heat and fatigue again taking their toll,” said event founder and ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem. “It’s pleasing to see the local drivers showing through and using their experience and knowledge of the dunes to carve their path towards good results.”

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is taking place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler’s representative in Al-Dafra region, and has invaluable support from Al Dafrah Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality, the UAE Army, Abu Dhabi Police, National Ambulance Service, Yas Marina Circuit, ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al-Ain Water, Abu Dhabi Waste Management, Rotana and Centro Hotel – Yas Island, the Qasr Al-Sarab Resort and Al-Forsan Circuit.

Monday – as it happened

Sunderland and Al-Attiyah led their respective motorcycle and car rivals into the second selective of 289.39km that featured considerable sections through the notorious dunes of the Rub Al-Khali. Further down the field, Poland’s quad rider Rafal Sonik was hoping to recover from the persistent fuel issues that had plagued his Honda after the refuelling on Sunday and Qatar’s Adel Abdulla was given back the substantial time he had lost at the scene of the accident involving the injured Andrey Chipenko and slotted into fourth in T2 with his Nissan Patrol.

As the leading group of riders remained together through the first two passage controls, Khalid Al-Falaisi was forced to retire his Honda with mechanical trouble and wait for the sweep truck to collect it. Renet benefited from his starting position to take the virtual bike lead at PC2, while Sunderland dropped nine minutes to his rivals. Riders outside the top 15 had begun the stage in a pair of spectacular mass starts.

Al-Attiyah extended his advantage over Al-Qassimi by just under three minutes through PC1 and to a little under six at PC2, as the leading group of riders began the final crossing of the dunes after a third checkpoint at Arada. Renet held on to snatch the stage win, but Walkner grabbed the overall lead and Al-Attiyah tightened his grip on the car section to 23min 03.1sec.

The dunes played havoc with competitors running down the order. Both Khalid Al-Jafla and Patrice Garrouste crashed, riders Elio Aglioni and Jan Zatko were retrieved suffering from possible dehydration and Vasilyev and Zapletal both got stuck in the dunes, the Russian enduring a sandy delay at the same point as quad rider Camelia Liparoti was also festooned in the sand.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), competitors tackle the second of three loop stages around the southernmost extremities of the UAE. The 288.73km special starts at the desert outpost of Tharwaniya off the road to Mezaira’a and winds its way through the towering dune complexes of the Rub Al-Khali to finish 19km north of Hameem. The route passes the famed Moreeb Hill before heading south and running along the frontier with Saudi Arabia. It then returns to the bivouac for a refuelling stop for the bikes at PC1.

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – positions on leg 2 (Monday – unofficial @ 15.50hrs):

Cars

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4hr 02min 34sec

2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR    4hr 14min 02sec

3. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 21min 40sec

4. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo                   4hr 24min 22sec

5. Ahmed Al-Maqoodi (ARE)/Obaid Al-Kitbi (ARE) Polaris RZR 1000             4hr 47min 29sec

 

Bikes

1. Pierre Alexander Renet (FRA) Husqvarna 450 Rally                            4hr 05min 05.4sec

2. Paolo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda 450 CRF Rally                              4hr 07min 22.8sec

3. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                      4hr 08min 53.0sec

4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna 450 Rally                                     4hr 11min 48.6sec

5. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda 450 CRF Rally                              4hr 12min 36.3sec

6. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                      4hr 14min 48.1sec

 

Quads

1. Kees Koolen (NED) Barren Racer One 690                                               4hr 40min 42sec

2. Fahad Al-Musallam (KUW)          Yamaha Raptor 700R                              5hr 00min 54sec

3. Kamil Wisniewski (POL) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                               5hr 10min 17sec

4. Rodolfo Schippers (GUA) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                               5hr 19min 07sec

5. Camelia Liparoti (ITA) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                               5hr 39min 32sec

6. Maxim Antimirov (KAZ) Honda TRX 700                                               5hr 39min 33sec

7. Khalifa Al-Raeesi (ARE) Honda TRX 700                                           6hr 01min 44sec

 

2017 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – positions after Leg 2 (Monday – unofficial @ 15.50hrs):

Cars

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 7hr 18min 37.7sec

2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR    7hr 41min 40.8sec

3. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo                   8hr 15min 42.1sec

4. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 8hr 20min 53.7sec

5. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 8hr 34min 54.6sec

6. Stephan Schott (DEU)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing           9hr 04min 23.2sec

7. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (CZE) Hummer H3 Evo III          9hr 22min 29.2sec

8. Eugenio Amos (ITA)/Rafael Tornabell (ESP) Buggy 2WD                       9hr 50min 26.7sec

9. Yayha Al-Helai (ARE)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Nissan Pick-Up                    9hr 52min 12.6sec

10. Ahmed Al-Maqoodi (ARE)/Obaid Al-Kitbi (ARE) Polaris RZR 1000   9hr 52min 39.6sec

 

Bikes

1. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                      7hr 41min 09.6sec

2. Paolo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda 450 CRF Rally                              7hr 41min 41.8sec

3. Pierre Alexander Renet (FRA) Husqvarna 450 Rally                            7hr 42min 54.3sec

4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna 450 Rally                                     7hr 43min 03.2sec

5. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Factory                                      7hr 45min 57.5sec

6. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda 450 CRF Rally                              7hr 53min 07.5sec

7. Antoine Meo (FRA)          KTM 450 Rally Factory                                      8hr 21min 05.1sec

8. Mohammed Jaffar (KUW) KTM 450 Rally Replica                              8hr 21min 19.5sec

9. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica                    8hr 33min 38.7sec

10. David McBride (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Replica                              9hr 20min 30.6sec

 

Quads

1. Kamil Wisniewski (POL) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                               9hr 56min 08.4sec

2. Fahad Al-Musallam (KUW)          Yamaha Raptor 700R                              10hr 01min 51.2sec

3. Rodolfo Schippers (GUA) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                               10hr 05min 52.9sec

4. Camelia Liparoti (ITA) Yamaha Raptor 700 R                               10hr 34min 54.4sec

5. Maxim Antimirov (KAZ) Honda TRX 700                                               10hr 37min 05.4sec

6. Khalifa Al-Raeesi (ARE) Honda TRX 700                                           10hr 56min 15.8sec

 

For live timing and tracking during the race:

http://timing.sporttraxx.com/ races/

http://tracking.sporttraxx. com/races/addc-2017/splits/

Spectator vantage points

 

Tuesday, April 4 – SS3 (Al-Ain Water)

Start SS3 – 07.00hrs          N23 04.937 E53 59.5592          Tharwaniyah

 

Viewpoint – 07.30hrs          N22 58.043 E53 46.293          Moreeb, access via Maiira’a

 

PC1 – 09.40hrs          N22 53.232 E54 20.731 Bike refuel at the bivouac.

 

PC3 – 10.20hrs          N23 16.678 E54 22.568 Close to road, 37km north of Hameem.

 

Finish SS3 – 11.40hrs          N23 07.516 E54 19.016 19km north of Hameem.

 

Bivouac – 12.05hrs          N23 53.057 E54 20.702 Qasr al Sarab

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