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Al-Attiyah extends FIA World Cup lead
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 27 - 06 - 2016

Overdrive Racing brought three of its four Toyota Hiluxes to the finish of the punishing Italian Baja in Pordenone Sunday afternoon and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah led the way for the Belgian team with a superb last stage victory that extends the Qatar's commanding lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
He and French navigator Matthieu Baumel were dicing for the outright lead throughout the three-day event in northern Italy and overturned a 53-second deficit on the last special stage to record a winning margin of 2min 09sec over runner-up Vladimir Vasilyev.
Poland's Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor brought their Team Orlen-backed Toyota to the finish in a fourth place, although there was a chance that a time penalty for a rival may push them into third place in the final results.
Al-Attiyah's brother Khalifa and his French navigator Xavier Panseri finished 17th, but the French duo of Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot retired on the second of the stages on Saturday afternoon with an engine failure.
Al-Attiyah opened his account perfectly with the fastest time on Friday afternoon's 10.27km super special stage. The Qatari recorded a time of 7min 56.3sec in his Overdrive Toyota Hilux and that was 21.3 seconds quicker than the time set by Saudi rival Yazeed Al-Rajhi.
Dabrowski settled into third position with a time of 8min 25.6sec and Chabot was 15th. Khalifa Al-Attiyah drove in a restrained manner on his Italian debut to hold 20th place in a time of 9min 35.4sec.
Teams tackled two runs through the 74.40km of the Arzena stage on Saturday and Al-Attiyah recorded the fastest time of 51min 50sec to extend his outright lead over Al-Rajhi to 29 seconds. Dabrowski was sixth and held fifth overall, while the 13th quickest time ensured that Chabot started the third stage in 14th position. Al-Attiyah's brother Khalifa was 20th.
Al-Rajhi hit back on the second run through Arzena and the Saudi clocked the fastest time of 50min 40sec to snatch the outright lead away from Al-Attiyah by the margin of 26 seconds. The sixth quickest time for Dabrowski ensured that the Pole reached the overnight halt in a similar position. Al-Attiyah climbed to 18th overall, but Chabot suffered engine issues and lost his place inside the top 20.
Bryce Menzies won the first of the two runs through the 74.50km of the Rauscedo stage Sunday morning — a repeat of the Saturday special run in reverse — and snatched the outright lead from Al-Attiyah by 53 seconds heading into the repeat run in the afternoon. Dabrowski was fifth and held a similar position in the overall standings and Khalifa Al-Attiyah recorded the 20th fastest time to hold 15th overall. Chabot had retired following his troubles Saturday evening.
Al-Attiyah recorded a time of 50min 44sec on his final dash through the stage in an attempt to overturn the 53 seconds by which he trailed Menzies and it worked superbly. Despite a puncture, it not only gave the Qatari the quickest time, but his rival dropped nearly eight minutes and slipped behind Dabrowski in the overall classification. — SG


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