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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2 hrs ago


A mini-epic 🍿Alex Albon and Arthur Leclerc fight for P4 in the closing laps of Sunday's Virtual Monaco Grand Prix 👏 ... See Less

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Gutierrez ruined the race outcome. I expect that kinda bumper cars from nascar. I’d why I quit that series. Altho it sounds like it pleased some folks. Well, there’s always the real thing, and bikes. flat track, moto, and. Enduro’s. Something for everybody. Hope the next one is cleaner.

Another Ferrari driver who can't handle being passed

More exiting than real F1.. says enough!

Glad they made titanium front wings and sidepods.

Good old Karting move 👍

Never seen such racing in Monaco.

Turn on damages. What a mess it look like kids driving today ...

turn damage on so we can really have fun watching drivers survive monaco.

He went through where Max couldn't get past Hamilton last season

It looks fake and it is...multiple collisions, no damage, no nothing. It’s just not interesting.

Enough of this. Bring back the real deal

😮👏🏻 Good luck

I think they should have had damage on

Super unrealistic...

The fact these guys race with no damage is sad.

Turn on the damage

Gutierrez is the Pagenaud of F1

100% Prost v Senna

In real life that's a 10 sec penalty God I love these virtual races

Súper real los golpes que se dan y siguen como si nada...👏🏼👏🏼

Isso pq vcs não viram o que fizeram em romrom17 .com hilariante!

Si los duelos en monaco fuera asi en vida real, no me quiero imaginar las demas carreras jaja

Kieron Carey


Guillaume Thonon

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3 hrs ago


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Not watched this rubbish. They need to do a kind of battle royale style event where everyone has damage on, except kyviat and the last person to be torpedoed wins.

Bad luck for Charles on that point. Two years ago breaks failure and now this😂

You have overdone it with the "virtual" grand Prixs.I am a gamer and a FORMULA 1 fan myself but just the marketing exaggeration and promotion of all these tends to become boring, at least for those who spend a lot of time with pure Formula 1 things.Even the the E-league was better organized...

No damage... It's just a laugh that you need the settings for 5 year olds...

Honestly what Esteban today did was dirty... unacceptable, was watching Marcel Kiefer's stream and he was raging and swearing!

Why are some people so angry on this thread because wheels didn't fly off a virtual car? Lockdown really hitting hard 😂

These clips only remind me how barren my life is without F1 lol. I can't find any enthusiasm for these Mario Kart races.

Can we get a full contact death match mode with weapons please? Please!

😐 c'mon now...turn on damage and get all the F1 drivers involved. Have your "celebrity" races elsewhere. ½points for virtual races and add them to whatever is earned when the actual season resumes.

Just get to real racing already. This virtual racing wore out a month ago. NASCAR has started and IndyCar starts June 6th.

If they're going to play a game with ridiculous physics and no damage, why don't they just play Call of Duty. That's about as close to real war as this F1 game is to car racing.

Alright, it's funny if everyone agrees to go full Mario Kart mode. Not if a couple decides to torpedoe everyone while the rest is actually trying ro race. Either implement some set of rules or just switch to Mario Kart for this series. It was funny, now it's just ridiculous.

What no damage. That the whole point of f1

Leclerc and Monaco is just not a good combination.

What a load of sh*te this is honest. May as well watch them all playing mario cart. Utterly pointless.

Gustavo Gradvohl, você é o único sobrinho de quem não tenho o número do celular Whatsapp e gostaria de ter o teu levando em consideração que o meu celular Whatsapp é 55 85 991058974 até porque terei o maior prazer.

Here for all the ItS nOt ReAlIsTiC comments. No kidding, it's a video game.

it was the worst virtual gp please turn on damage

also Esteban seems to be like five years child who chrashing into everything

They really need to mount guns and oil slicks and mix things up. 😜

Wow he even crash in virtual race.

It’s just a battering course. Pathetic. If that was a normal online game you’d be fuming

N'importe quoi et croire que les gens regardent ça . Je suis très fan et je regarde autant de grand prix que possible mais a regarder des gamins joué Dsl

Black flag for Gutierrez, no wait, he has the car of Hamilton! It's all OK 😂

Mercedes involved in someone else crashing and no penalty where have we seen that before

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6 hrs ago


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Relive the highlights from the #SanMarinoGP! 🇸🇲
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What an emotional race. Amazing.


en ik ook

Dominik Leder

Fatima Benard segundo 35 cuando voy conduciendo y me envías un mensaje

Ricardo Blokzijl Nathalie Blokzijl, dat weekendje gaat jammer genoeg dit jaar niet door

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7 hrs ago

24H Series

Yesterday during the 12H MONZA, Munckhof Racing powered by No Fear Energy Drink and Ciceley Motorsport side by side during the race! 🏎️💥

#thisisendurance #24hseries #24hseries2020 #motorsport #12hmonza #racing #iracing #esports
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Yesterday during the 12H MONZA, Munckhof Racing powered by No Fear Energy Drink and Ciceley Motorsport side by side during the race! 🏎️💥

#thisisendurance #24HSERIES #24HSERIES2020 #motorsport #12HMONZA #racing #iracing #esports

7 hrs ago


How does Valentino Rossi VR46 Official describe himself? 🤔
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What's his favourite #MotoMonster Energy Yamaha MotoGPhis and more about the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider in our Quick Fire questions ⁉️
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Gotta love that guy! 🤣 what if your cat finds out about that dog mishap?? 🙈 Also: pineapple on pizza is THE BEST! I’m sorry but it’s true 😝

Looking forward to racing again . You look really good , relaxed & happy. You will always be No 1 . ❤ One kiss x

Optimistic in 2018 to enjoying my soft pizza from bridgestone with mayonaise in the beach at sunset with coffee and gain cardio of my dogs just to funny 😆😆✌️

Vale you are really Amazing!!!! Good luck!!! We Love ❤💛 YOU!!!!

Always smiling our Vale !! and of course optimistic. I love him 🥰. I hope to see you soon on the track. 😉

rossi: mayo pizza cooks: WHAT A GENIUS he must be 200+ iq

My Boy, and no pineapple, I'm allergic. XX

Only you were allowed to switch the tyres from Michelin to Bridgestone.. What a shame!

Maybe they should do this for all the riders????

FFS!! Enough of the fan-boy shite MotoGP!! 🤬 Let's see something about other riders. You have 82 others to choose from!

Mayonnaise on a pizza? In Italy? It must be an Uccio thing, there's no other explanation... 🤣🤣🤣

Pizza with mayonnaise??????

Hahahaha "forbidden." #pineappledoesnotbelongonpizza

T-shirt salesman

I love this guy...

Hello mester Rossi we miss you, Go go go

Ah Vale!.. la pizza con la maionese proprio non si può sentire!!!!😱😱😱😱😱

Give it a rest.......... 💤💤💤💤

Legend. Forza

I love the guy

Che cazzo dici Vale? Mayonnaise su pizza? Perche no Vegemite?!? 🤣🤣🤙🤙

RETIRE already!!!!!!!!

Jamais de sous titre sur vos vidéos sa commence à être lourd

Gracias por ser quien eres


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