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Attiyah makes mint start to his new Polo campaign, extends Qatar Intl Rally lead

Attiyah makes mint start to his new Polo campaign, extends Qatar Intl Rally lead

Tribune News Network
LUSAIL
Nasser Saleh al Attiyah delivered a mint start to his new rallying campaign in a new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 to extend his overall lead in the Manateq Qatar International Rally to 1min 24.5sec on Friday.
The 13-time winner of the rally and French navigator Matthieu Baumel won each of the day’s four gravel special stages in the north of the country and showed the true potential of the new factory-supported car being run by Autotek Motorsport.
A relaxed Attiyah said: “We are quite happy with the car and everything is working well. It is similar to the Ford and the Skoda. R5 is R5, but I had a good feeling from the beginning. No water on the stages this morning, but it was a little bit windy and dusty. We did a good job. The stages today were a little bit rough. For the R5, they were okay, but when you see the Group N have a lot of problem, this is the Qatar Rally. Tomorrow (Saturday) the stages are much better. We try to keep a good pace and manage our lead.”
Abdulaziz al Kuwari returned to the hot seat after a three-year absence and quickly settled into a steady pace after a cautious start. The former event winner held second in his Skoda Fabia R5 with British co-driver Marshall Clarke.
“Good day, but very difficult,” said Kuwari. “We had two slow punctures and we had to change them. In general, we were clean and I am enjoying a lot. We were trying to get the speed. Both times I did well in Al Gharijah. I did not expect the speed to be like that. We are safe in second place. There is no way to catch Nasser, but there is a good gap behind me. We need to keep the car on the road. The Skoda is not the correct car for desert rallies. Maybe it’s better in Jordan and Lebanon. In the desert, with high speeds and bumps, three times I saw the ground in front and was almost going to roll...”
The 1993 regional champion Sheikh Hamed bin Eid al Thani enjoyed his first taste of an R5 Fiesta to hold third overall, while Kuwait’s Meshari al Thefiri was a fine fourth, topped the MERC 2 rankings and fended off the challenge from two R5 cars to boot. Thefiri, who is a double Group N and MERC 2 regional champion, said: “It’s a good day. We drive fast today but I took the safe line in the stages. We see a big gap in MERC 2. We try to push for the overall. I want to be top three. The new stages are nice but hard. We don’t have enough tyres. We don’t have service and we only had four tyres and two spares. There is a big gap between my car and R5 cars in terms of performance, but I will see what happens tomorrow.”
Khalid al Suwaidi and Nasser Khalifa al Attiyah rounded off the top six in their Ford Fiesta R5s. Italy’s Stefano Marrini was classified seventh and second in MERC 2 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX and Qatar’s Rashid al Mohannadi, Oman’s Saif al Harthy and defending MERC 3 champion Henry Kahy rounded off the top 10.
Lebanon’s Ahmad Khaled, Qatar’s Mohammed al Meer and Jordan’s Asem Aref completing the day in 11th, 12th and 13th overall.
Six Omani crews started the Manateq Qatar National Rally. Jarah al Touqi moved to the top of the leader board in SS2 and maintained his advantage to reach Lusail 9min 31.9sec in front of Zakariyah al Amri. Oman-based Briton Shaun McGonigal slipped from second to third after the fifth stage, but Zakariya al Ofi was sidelined with drive train issues.
On Saturday, two loops of three special stages will bring the competitive action to a close in Qatar in the north of the country. Runs through Eraida (19.39km), Al Dhakira (24.13km) and Al Khor (18.18km) take place at 08.35hrs, 09.08hrs and 09.50hrs and precede a return to service at the Lusail Sports Centre. The three timed tests are repeated at 12.30hrs, 13.03hrs and 13.45hrs and surviving crews then return to Lusail for a final service.
The ceremonial finish will take place at Souq Waqif in downtown Doha for a second consecutive year with the prize giving taking centre stage at 20.15hrs live on
Al Rayyan television.Kuwari settles into second; big MERC 2 lead
for Thefiri2019 Manateq Qatar
International RallyPositions after SS5
1. Nasser Saleh al Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 48min 49.9sec
2. Abdulaziz al Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR) Škoda Fabia R5 50min 14.4sec
3. Hamed bin Eid al Thani (QAT)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Ford Fiesta R5 53min 45.2sec
4. Meshari al Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser al Kuwari (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 53min 50.4sec
5. Khalid al Suwaidi (QAT)/Adel Abdulla (QAT) Ford Fiesta R5 55min 18.8sec
6. Nasser Khalifa al Attiyah (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Ford Fiesta R5 55min 37.4sec
7. Stefano Marrini (ITA)/Nicolas Garcia (ARG) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 00min 44.3sec
8. Rashid al Mohannadi (QAT)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 05min 24.7sec
9. Saif al Harthy (OMN)/Saif Al-Minai (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 05min 48.6sec
10. Henry Kahy (LEB)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR) Škoda Fabia 1hr 09min 57.4sec
11. Ahmad Khaled (LEB)/Dany Kairouz (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 1hr 12min 54.5sec
12. Mohammed al Meer (QAT)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 18min 58.2sec
13. Asem Aref (JOR)/Faris al Tal (JOR) Renault Clio 1hr 30min 21.2sec
2019 Manateq Qatar National Rally
Positions after SS5
1. Jarah al Touqi (OMN)/Issa al Wardi (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 1hr 02min 36.5sec
2. Zakariyah al Amri (OMN)/Abdullah al Amri (OMN) Subaru Impreza 1hr 12min 08.4sec
3. Shaun McGonigal (OMN)/Nath Marriott (OMN) Subaru Impreza STi 1hr 18min 10.8sec.

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