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Attiyah wrests FIA World Cup lead
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 27 - 05 - 2017

AKTAU CITY, KazakhstanQatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel emerged unscathed from Friday's 147.94km sixth stage of Rally Kazakhstan to secure overall victory by the margin of 7min 43sec and the outright lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
After moving into the lead on day two of the 2,500km event across south-west Kazakhstan, the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux duo were never able to rest on their laurels on demanding special stages laid on across the Central Asian country's Mangystau oblast. The quickest time on the final stage was sufficient for Al-Attiyah to seal his third win of the season after victories in Dubai and Qatar.
Poland's Jakub Przygonski and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul delivered a second successive runner-up position on a long-distance round of the FIA World Cup and pressurised Al-Attiyah hard throughout the six days. They led after day one and never gave the Qatari the opportunity to ease his pace. Przygonski climbs to third in the championship standings.
Yazeed Al-Rajhi and German navigator Timo Gottschalk won three of the event's six selective sections but an accident and broken suspension on day one put paid to the Saudi challenging for the overall victory. He delivered an impressive performance in the new Mini John Cooper Works Rally nonetheless and reached Aktau in 11th overall.
Aron Domzala and new co-driver Maciej Marton enjoyed a successful first appearance in Kazakhstan and managed to bring the second of the Overdrive Toyotas to the finish in third to round off the podium places. The Pole threatened Przygonski's hold on second overall for a couple of days before losing 10 minutes on the penultimate leg.
Last year, Yuriy Sazonov was crowned as the winner of the Kazakhstan candidate event for inclusion in the FIA calendar and fourth position was the best he could realistically have hoped to achieve against the professional teams in his Hummer H3 with fellow Kazakh co-driver Vitalyi Yevtyekhov.
Fellow Yerden Shagirov and his Ukrainian co-driver Dmitro Tsyro shrugged off penalties that were later removed from their overall time and reached the finish in Aktau in fifth position in their Toyota Hilux, despite stopping several times in the closing kilometres after rolling their Toyota. The Lithuanian duo of Antanas Juknevicius and Darius Vaiciulis were sixth overall in a similar car and nearly gained a place with Shagirov's last stage drama. Both cars were built by Overdrive Racing.
Seventh-placed Yasir Saeidan of Saudi Arabia teamed up with Russian navigator Alexey Kuzmich at the 11th hour and the decision was a good one. The Toyota Land Cruiser driver dominated the T2 category from start-to-finish to extend his lead in the FIA T2 standings after five rounds.
Qatar's defending FIA T2 champion Adel Abdulla was his closest rival in eighth overall, but the Nissan Patrol driver lost chunks of time with wiring loom issues early in the race and further time losses in the sand dunes hampered his progress. The Doha driver reached Aktau 3hrs 17min 14sec behind Saeidan in the overall classification with French co-driver Sébastien Delaunay.
Al-Rajhi was 11th, Kirill Chernenkov 12th, T3 winner Claude Fournier reached Aktau in 13th in his Polaris RXR 1000 and Dmitry Pitulov was 14th.
AMFK President Marat Abykayev took part in the event with his son Nursultan but crashed his Toyota Land Cruiser heavily out of the final stage.


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