Rally: Al Attiyah puts Skoda in top spot on day 1 in Kuwait International Rally

Rally: Al Attiyah puts Skoda in top spot on day 1 in Kuwait International Rally
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah on a charge in Kuwait.

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah on a charge in Kuwait.

Friday, March 25th, 2016-FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2.

JULAI’A (Kuwait):  Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah may well be able to hit the cruise control button on the final leg of the Kuwait International Rally, after he surged into a staggering lead of 6min 23.2sec after six timed special stages in the southern Kuwait deserts on Friday.

He and French navigator Matthieu Baumel were never troubled during a faultless day, where their Skoda Fabia R5 won every stage to take firm control and push the 11-time regional champion towards a record sixth win in Kuwait.

“A perfect day for our team, really,” reflected Al-Attiyah. “We win all the stages and I have a big lead now. The objectives change now though. We have to conserve that lead and make no mistakes on the last day. It is very important for me to win in Kuwait and extend my lead in the championship.”

A fierce desert battle raged behind the leading drivers in the MERC 2 class that could well become the highlight of the regional championship this year.

Yigit Timur began to up his pace as the day progressed and the Turk snatched the MERC 2 lead and second overall at the end of the sixth stage in a Tok Sport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. By the end of the leg, that advantage was a mere 4.1 seconds.

Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri produced the standout local performance of the day in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X to hold third overall and second in MERC 2, despite a minor incident on the second stage when he damaged the intercooler.

“I am very happy to finish the day in the top three,” said Al-Thefiri. “The Turkish guy (Timur) is second. Four seconds between us. I lost time in the sixth stage and the gap is very small. I have the advantage tomorrow, because I know the stages very well. The most important thing is to finish to celebrate winning the national championship.”

Qatar’s Rashed Al-Nuami and Italian navigator Nicola Arena were fourth and third in MERC 2 and Al-Attiyah’s brother Khalifa Al-Attiyah and Cypriot navigator Savvas Laos rounded off the top five in their Subaru Impreza.

The Lebanese duo of Rodolphe Asmar and experienced co-driver Joseph Matar held sixth and Saudi rookie Rakan Al-Rashed and Finnish navigator Jarkko Kalliolepo were seventh. Germany’s Edith Weiss and the Kuwaiti duo of Saleh Ali and Elie Chachati rounded off the 10 survivors.

Qatar’s Khaled Al-Suwaidi and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini were a comfortable second in their Ford Fiesta R5 until they lost over five minutes with a broken gearbox in stage five and slipped to eighth overall. Ongoing problems cost them further time before they retired before stage seven.

“The stages are really nice. I was not taking risks or adventures. Nasser is not an easy driver to beat, so I was being logical,” said Al-Suwaidi. “I did a mistake with the tyres. I put the hard compound and was afraid of punctures. I will try to push a little more tomorrow.”

“On the fourth stage I have a problem. I lost third gear and continued the stage. On the next stage only the fourth and fifth gears were working. I retired before the last stage.”

The event is being organised by the Basil Salem Al-Sabah Motor Racing Club (BMRC) under the chairmanship of Sheikh Athbi Nayef Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and in conjunction with the General Authority for Sport.

Day 1 – as it happened

Al-Attiyah headed to the southern extremities of Kuwait to tackle the opening 13.95km Nuwaiseeb special, located near to the Saudi Arabian border, with a lead of 3.8 seconds over Al-Suwaidi. The Qatari set the target time of 7min 55.4sec and that was sufficient to extend his advantage to 20.8 seconds. The writing was already on the wall for his rivals.

Al-Thefiri led the MERC 2 contingent overnight and his Friday morning stage opener of 8min 32.1sec was an impressive start. It gave the Kuwaiti an MERC 2 lead of 21.02 seconds after the opening desert stage.

The third 23.87km Al-Kheiran special was slightly further north of Nuwaiseeb and was located to the east of Kuwait’s highway 40. But it failed to change Al-Suwaidi’s fortunes and another storming time by Al-Attiyah extended his advantage to 42.7 seconds.

Timur was in excellent form in MERC 2 and he snatched the lead from Al-Thefiri with the quickest time after the Kuwaiti clouted a ditch and lost turbo boost. Al-Nuami moved up to third, but the leading six drivers were closely matched and this set up the prospect of a fascinating tussle for the podium.

The final stage of the loop at Al-Zour, close to a major new oil refinery project in the south, offered 23.87km. Al-Attiyah was fastest again and headed towards the midday regroup and service in Julai’a with a lead of 1min 07.3sec.

Al-Thefiri had repaired his damaged intercooler and managed to finish the special in 15min 46.3sec and regained a 17.2-second advantage over Timur at Julai’a.  “I was fastest on the first stage and I was close to Al-Suwaidi. The second stage, one kilometre after the start, there was a ditch, and I hit it hard and we hit the intercooler and lost the boost. I competed 20km and lost a lot of time – maybe more than a minute from the times in the local rally. On this stage I did some changes to the intercooler. There was some damage and we fix it and we recovered.”

Leader Al-Attiyah said: “I finish three stages and I am leading and was fastest on all three stages.  I feel comfortable and in a safe mood with the Skoda. The Michelin tyres are working well in Kuwait. Everything is fine.”

A repeat of the three stages was on the agenda for the afternoon and Al-Attiyah beat his morning time by 7.1 seconds, but Al-Suwaidi was in serious trouble and gearbox issues cost the Qatari just under five minutes and dropped him to eighth.

Al-Thefiri was four seconds slower than his morning run, but he inherited second overall and headed towards the re-run of Kheiran 4min 14.2sec behind the outright leader. He managed to extend his MERC 2 advantage over Timur to 20.1 seconds, despite being beaten by Khalifa Al-Attiyah in the stage. All 13 starters completed the special.

Al-Attiyah was noticeably slower in the re-run of Kheiran, although he reached the start of stage seven holding an outright advantage of 5min 08.2sec.  Al-Suwaidi’s problems were ongoing and the Fiesta driver continued to haemorrhage time to his rivals with only fourth and fifth gears working and a transmission change required at the end of the day.

Al-Nuami began to apply the pressure on Al-Thefiri and closed to within 5.1 seconds of the Kuwaiti heading to the last stage. But Timur was the new MERC 2 leader, after the Turk set the second quickest time and moved into a lead of 16.9 seconds. Abdullah Al-Kuwari hit turbo trouble and retired.

There were no major dramas for Al-Attiyah in the stage and the Qatari cruised to the overnight halt with a massive lead, but all eyes were on the MERC 2 fight, as Al-Suwaidi retired with his transmission woes before the last stage.

Tomorrow (Saturday), teams tackle the remaining six desert special stages of the event, commencing with the first of two runs through the 16.61km of the Bnaider stage. The ceremonial finish is scheduled for 16.30hrs outside the Safir Hotel and Residences in Fintas, south of Kuwait City.

Timetable of events – Saturday, March 26:

10:00     SS8 Bnaider 1

10:48     SS9 Arifjan 1

11:26     SS10 Julai’a 1

12.06     Service at Julai’a

13:04     SS11 Bnaider 2

13:52     SS12 Arifjan 2

14:30     SS13 Julai’a 2

16.30     Podium finish, Safir Hotel, Fintas

2016 Kuwait International Rally – positions after SS7:

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Skoda Fabia R5                1hr 09min 36.1sec

2. Yigit Timur (TUR)/Ufuk Uluocak (TUR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                         1hr 15min 59.3sec

3. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                1hr 16min 03.4sec

4. Rashed Al-Nuami (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Subaru Impreza                                   1hr 16min 28.2sec

5. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Savvas Laos (CYP) Subaru Impreza                                   1hr 16min 42.6sec

6. Rodolphe Asmar (LEB)/Joseph Matar (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX                        1hr 18min 18.3sec

7. Rakan Al-Rashed (SAU)/Jarkko Kalliolepo (FIN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX                1hr 20min 18.9sec

8. Edith Weiss (DEU)/Anne Stein (DEU) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX                        1hr 30min 08.0sec

9. Saleh Ali (KWT)/Othman Hamdar (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII                     1hr 30min 38.3sec

10. Elie Chachati (KWT)/Naji Sfeir (LEB) Subaru Impreza                                 1hr 33min 58.7sec

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8 hrs ago


That Alex Albon is so cheeky 😂 ... See Less

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Omg! I love this duo so much! Never fail to make me laugh 😂

Actually I don't Like Alex' sense of humor :/ he is imo too arrogant

Is it just me or does anybody else wanna punch max in the fuckin face as hard as u could??

Why in the hell did Merc haven't done Grill the Grid?

If he think that one is bad i wonder what he think of the rookie of the year one ! 👀

Alex very honest! I like that


Did he say Sonny Moore at 0:28?

Congrats 😎

Sarah Jones

Nikko Par

Alex Albon 💙

Ricardo Ruiz

While you patiently waiting for your monthly salary, others are busy earning nothing less than $500- $10000 every 48hours, Ask me how????

Celine Maddie

Traduscalon a español

Rahul Kale Nuaman Wt

Max might be fast but his funny level is pretty low.

"It looks Romanian" hahaha good knowledge of flags Alex!

Who win this in 2018 please?

Being a Romanian, I’m surprise that Albon know the Romania 🇷🇴 flag ☺️. Wow.

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9 hrs ago


Hang in there... fewer than 💯 days until the next race 😅 ... See Less

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Man weekends are so boring at the moment. Drive to survive needs to come out sooner than March to help this out

It was fun back in the days when we had the V8 .. It was a joy to watch the replays but now I can't stand watching any reply of this era even if it was a perfect move or something really special Please give us some noise .. I want my ears to hurt again 😅

And if Sebastian and Max have been good Saint Nic may bring them a fast car for 2020.

Odotetaan jannityksella odotus aika tuntuu pitkalta vai mita . ?? 🌲🌨🎅🎅Hyvaa joulua seka vuoden loppua . 🥂❤️❤️🍀🍀.

Super cross holds me over quite well until F1 starts back up.

It's gonna be a long winter.

It’s worse when you put it that way! 100 days...omg....nooooooooooooo!

90 days, 4 hours, 9 minutes and 30 sec to be precise...

Now that F1 has been over.

Waiting on the season to start

if V12 days yes we aka fans are eager for new seasons race but not now sadly..

With me in the competition.. Your gonna.. WIN.. 🏆❤💋

We are ready 💜😏

I know it’s not F1, but urge everyone to get on to the Bathurst 12 hour stream, starting October 21st. A real motor race with overtaking. It might get you through to the start of the next F1 season. www.bathurst12hour.com.au/news/2020-liqui-moly-bathurst-12-hour-date-confirmed/

Hang in there Tom, it’ll be back soon!!

Racing denotes some sort of competition is involved.

Can't wait!

It's not that long.

Waiting for this.. 👍🏻 👍🏻 👏🏻 🏁🏁🏎️🏎️👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Non vediamo l'ora che comincia grand premio, speriamo che sia spettacolare come finale 2019...

100 days never seemed longer

Race ever day.

اعطونا رزنامت الموسم القادم

Can’t wait 😆

Can't wait.

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10 hrs ago


🥁 And the winner is... (as voted by F1 fans) ... See Less

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Funny how fans were whingeing about the state of F1 in early 2019, saying it's boring and a procession...Soon as they said that, boom! We have a season on our hands. A season to enjoy, with some of the best overtakes I've ever seen, in my 34 full years of F1 watching! Wow!

I'm surprised that Leclercs move on Gasly at Silverstone isn't included in this list. I don't think I've ever seen an overtake around the outside of Village. Pretty impressive, as far as I am concerned.

Would you look at that F1, the FIAs "Action of the Year" nowhere to be seen as anyone with an ounce of credibility knows that was an overtake off the circuit.

Sainz at Brazil should’ve been #1

Seriously how Max got "Action of the year" with that move I'll never know.... Way more impressive moves this year than that!

Lec overtake impossible Ver overtake very difficult and very beautiful but possible ! For me Lec P1 Ver P2

The number 1 is one of the easiest move, it's number 1 just 'cause crytappen done it. In the same footage, 20 meters behind, there is a more gutsy move made by his team-mate Albon on the (most powerful on straights) Ferrari of Vettel. That shows once again that "voted by fan" means s**t. Most of them can't even understand the basis of motorsport.

I liked the double overtake of Verstappen on LeClerc and Hamilton in Brazil the most. Such confidence and determinatiom and Senna-esque going for the gap. That’s what makes Max brilliant

The overtake of Verstappen to Leclerc in Austria is not a good overtake, was an ilegal overtake!

Passing on the grass is always tricky. A bit too much throttle either on the grass or when regaining the track and you're not going to have a good day. Much as I'm not a fan of Leclerc, I do have to say where he passed in Monaco was tricky and took some skill. I think that Norris' double pass in COTA should've been in this top ten.

Everything that F1 does here is to find a way to sell Max as an phenomenon. It sucks .... no credibility at all.

Max's overtake on Hamilton is exactly like Montoya to Schumacher at the same place in a GP of Brazil..

Where is Hamilton on Vettel in Bahrain?? And Albon on Ricciardo at Spa!!?

An overtaking package without a single highlight from Ricciardo. Sums up Renault's season perfectly.

No.4 Bottas passed Hamilton on the next corner, where no one had passed before. It was great move!

P7 was not overtaking. It was forcing out of the track and causing a collison

And Sainz in Mónaco overtakes kvyat?

Number 4 Bottas repasted Hamilton into Cops corner that should be in the top 10, not often we have cars wheel too wheel into the corner it was fantastic racing from both drivers !!! 🤙

The best overtake for me is Leclerc on Gasly in Silverston

Sainz last lap overtake that secured the point för the 6th Palace in the Championship

6 years of Boring Parades.....F1 used to actually race before the Engineering Exercise.

That Max pass on Leclerc was anything but clean or graceful. Shoulda left a little more room outside.

To vote overtake moves check tyre wear and strategy cause a Williams can send one outside of Merc if tyres are worn differently......

how was sainz 3rd and not first? that was brave and crazily tight to overtake there....

Why Leclerc got 2 best overtake? I’ve never seen overtaking at that part of the track in this decade.

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11 hrs ago


Round 2 in Ausin provided drama that nobody expected! 😱

Take a look back at the first moments of the #AmericasGP! 🇺🇸

... See Less

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MM side to side transitions down through the esses is so much quicker than everyone else! Also he brakes so much harder and later than anyone coming into 12 it’s unreal to watch in person!

That turn 1 is so amazing.

it was actually round 3....but who's counting....

First race I went to ❤️

Who wrote this a child sloppy

Austin not 'Ausin' 😂 Round 3 not 2 😂 I think MotoGP is drunk

Cant spell Austin

Where’s Ausin? Is that near Austin?

Vr 46 😍

who won..??

Round 3 in Austin

What drama? 🤷‍♂️

Where is Ausin?

Patrick Souza

Wasn't Austin* round 3?

that race..??

Bay Shapso

Marc Marquez ❤❤

Wow this track is up, the lining of the #GP is so amazing ,😎

Forza VR46 ❤

Fabien Audouard Polo Fabien

Tressia Nowlin 🏍️❤️❤️❤️‼️‼️‼️


Que puesto quedo rossi?

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13 hrs ago


A first every Álex Rins/493142754078013">#MotoGP victory for Álex Rins! 🏆

His victory back at the #AmericasGP will go down in the history books! 👏
... See Less

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Rossi has perfected diving in too late and hot, then running way wide. You'd think he'd know better by now.

rossi should kick rins. so he can win this race. 🤐


S U Z U K Ingggggg 💪💪💪👏👏👏🦾🦾

Young riders to win 😎

I was there😁

Boa. Parabéns




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19 hrs ago


Maiden winners at the Marc Márquez17">#AmericasGPMaverick Viñalesf="https://facebooÁlex Rins142754078013">#MotoGP ➡️ Marc Márquez 🏆
2014 #Moto2 ➡️ Maverick Viñales 🏆
2013 #Moto3 ➡️ Álex Rins 🏆
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2013 AmericasGP marquez: new bike, new track, fast to adapt

Miss You Little Samurai #26DP 😑😑

Of course a choose Vin also...

Always.... Marc...

First is always special ❣️❣️❣️

Always Marc 💪🏻💪🏻🇳🇵🇳🇵

Miss you dani😭😭

Marc ❤

The first sign of the alien existed


MM93 forewer

Keliatan beda kelas antara marc dgn alex and vina

Always boring rider and boring titles from marq marquez

Babang dani 😍


Hallo ich bin Martin 😀

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21 hrs ago


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