LUSAIL (Qatar), 3 Feb 2024: Indian rally drivers Saneem Payyaakkal and co-driver Musa Sherif received the Rally4 class within the Center East Rally Championship which concluded right here in the present day. One other Indian pair of Fabid Ahmer and co-driver Milen George Cherian, did effectively and had been main within the second place, when catastrophe struck as their automotive stopped and couldn’t begin the Tremendous Particular Stage. The ensuing 10-min penalty for a re-start value them closely they usually ended up ending total twelfth. Saneem and Musa, had been total 14th however received their class which had just one automobile.
In the principle class, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Loris Pascaud delivered a masterclass efficiency on their desert debut and overcame late damper points and a few time penalties for contact with stage encompass fencing to safe a memorable victory on the Qatar Worldwide Rally on Saturday.
Norway’s Mads Ostberg and his Swedish co-driver Patrik Barth delivered a late cost over the afternoon loop of three quick phases however missed out on the win by simply 4.6 seconds.
Loubet grew to become solely the second non-Arab driver since Björn Waldegård in 1986 (Vojtĕch Štajf – 2018) to win the occasion outright. Sports activities Racing Applied sciences (SRT) duly earned a 1-2 end with their Škoda Fabia RS Rally2s.
Loubet mentioned: “We could be very happy with what we have now carried out. It has been a good time, an important rally and I actually loved it. Due to everyone. We had a damper problem and we’re blissful to be on the finish. It has been robust and really demanding.”
Østberg received 9 of the 13 particular phases. He added: “We needed to do the afternoon with a very totally different setting of the automotive. It was actually onerous. Pierre (Loubet) had an issue as effectively. It was dramatic for each of us. We had a great afternoon and we pushed as a lot as we may. It was one other very pleasant weekend.”
Abdullah Al-Rawahi and his Jordanian co-driver Ata Al-Hmoud proved that profitable final yr’s regional title was no fluke they usually climbed from fifth to the underside step of the rostrum in an Autotek-run Škoda, the Omani choosing up worthwhile MERC factors into the discount.
Al-Rawahi mentioned: “This result’s good for the championship and good factors. As we speak was implausible. We did some small errors yesterday however we managed to get again from fifth to 3rd. We pushed onerous. It’s a good end result. The crew labored actually onerous to offer me a greater automotive in the present day and it labored.”
The end result meant that no Qatari crew featured on the rostrum on their house occasion for the primary time for the reason that mid-Nineteen Nineties.
QMMF-backed Qatari Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Irish co-driver James Fulton slipped again from third to complete fourth of their Sarrazin-supplied Volkswagen Polo GTi. Former occasion winner Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya and Lebanon’s Ziad Chehab had been a distant fifth of their Motortune Ford Fiesta MkII.
An in a single day 30-minute time penalty obliterated Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah’s likelihood of profitable his house occasion for an 18th time however the Qatari and his co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini pushed onerous to climb by way of the tail finish of the sector. Nasser made it so far as ninth total however the end in Lusail Boulevard was a bridge too far and the winner of three phases broke a damper and retired on the final stage to cap a depressing weekend.
Al-Attiyah mentioned: “I used to be actually dissatisfied with the choice (time penalty). It was fully unsuitable. We couldn’t actually cease in the course of the freeway in any other case somebody may hit you. We determined to maneuver. I’m actually dissatisfied. It’s not knowledgeable manner. We tried to make some good factors. I did my finest to leap not less than two or three positions and to have a great time.”
The Jordanian crew of Shaker Jweihan and Mustafa Juma fully dominated the MERC2 class of their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. They completed sixth total and 9min 04.5sec forward of their nearest manufacturing class rivals, Shadi Shaban and Samer Issa.
Husam Salim and Nancy Al-Majali got here house in eighth and third in MERC2 and Qatar’s Rashid Al-Muhannadi teamed up with Omani Taya Al-Zadjali to complete ninth. The Jordanian duo of Ihab Al-Shorafa and Yousef Juma rounded off the highest 10.
After Khalid Al-Muhannadi withdrew with damaged entrance suspension on his Polaris and Stefano Marrini (Can-Am) stopped for a time in SS12, Filippo Epis (Yamaha) pressed on to grab victory within the T4 class from his Italian rival. He completed 11th total.
Emirati-based Indian Saneem Payyaakkal and his co-driver Musa Sherif have registered for the MERC and are competing within the new MERC4 class for two-wheel drive machines of their Ford Fiesta Rally4. They completed 14th, one place forward of the QMMF-backed Khalid Al-Suwaidi and Ross Whittock, who had retired with electrical points early on Friday and had been too far again to mount a severe problem on Saturday.
Saturday – because it occurred
Loubet headed into the opening stage to the northwest of Al-Khor with a 22.7-second lead over Østberg after Al-Attiyah had incurred his 30-minute time penalty and plummeted right down to 18th and out of competition on Friday night. Al-Kuwari was 39.6 seconds adrift in third.
Al-Attiyah was permitted to start out the primary stage from sixth on the highway as he aimed to amass as many MERC factors as he may. The one non-starters had been Kuwait’s Jassim Al-Muqahwi, who had succumbed to differential woes on Friday, and Oman’s Zakariya Al-Aamri, who failed to depart the service park. Lebanon’s Ahmad Khaled stopped on the highway part to the opening stage.
Loubet laid down the gauntlet with a time of 8min 50.5sec however Østberg was in no temper to take any prisoners and the Norwegian shaved 2.8 seconds off the Frenchman’s total benefit. Al-Rawahi managed to beat Al-Kuwari by 10 seconds and lowered the Qatari’s grip on third to 21.4 seconds. With the only real purpose of driving as quick as attainable to make up as a lot floor as he may, Al-Attiyah received the stage by 1.6 seconds.
Loubet was then penalised an additional 5 seconds by rally officers for brushing the stage fencing and his lead was right down to 14.9 seconds. T4 runner Khalid Al-Muhannadi stopped his Polaris within the stage with damaged front-right suspension.
A blast by way of the 15.93km of the Ras Laffan stage was subsequent on the agenda. Loubet responded together with his first stage win of the marketing campaign and beat Østberg by 9.9 seconds to increase his benefit to 24.8 seconds, though the Norwegian had sustained a damaged damper. Al-Rawahi continued to eat into Al-Kuwari’s maintain on third place and the Omani whittled that lead right down to 13.5 seconds. Al-Attiyah was second quickest.
Al-Thakhira (13.48km) was the final stage of a rapid-fire morning loop. Loubet stayed away from hassle to steer the occasion after the morning’s loop. Østberg took a unsuitable route from the stage end nevertheless it mattered not as a result of the rear damper points had value him much more time and he trailed Loubet by 41 seconds earlier than the Frenchman was penalised 10 seconds for one more brush with the fencing. Al-Rawahi continued to eat into Al-Kuwari’s maintain on third place and Al-Attiyah was quickest once more. Issa Abu Jamous stopped within the stage, as Jweihan romped away from Shaban in MERC2.
Loubet mentioned: “It was a great morning for us. We could be happy with what we have now carried out. Let’s hope it could proceed. Now we should be intelligent and do the identical.”
Østberg added: “We’ve a damaged rear damper fairly early on the second stage. We needed to drive slowly. This was a disgrace as a result of we had a great rhythm in the present day. We really feel that one thing occurred on the rear damper and we checked it and it’s damaged. With these quick phases and likewise a little bit of insecurity with the automotive, we all know the phases quiet effectively. We did them final yr. I used to be a bit stunned that we broken the automotive. This time it’s on the unsuitable facet for us. We’ve to repair the automotive and by no means surrender. We got here again from two minutes yesterday so every little thing is feasible. We’ve to strive once more and cross fingers…”
The afternoon loop started with a re-run of Al-Khor. Østberg had three quick phases to try to squeeze 31 seconds out of Loubet and achieve a primary win in Qatar at his third try. Loubet was 2.3 seconds faster than his morning’s run however he dropped 9.7 seconds to his decided rival, who benefitted from a changed rear damper and lowered the result in 21.3 seconds.
Al-Rawahi delivered a surprising time that eclipsed the one set by Loubet and it was sufficient for final yr’s joint regional champion to displace Al-Kuwari and transfer into third place. Al-Attiyah was fourth quickest. T4 chief Marrini stopped his Can-Am for a short while within the stage and misplaced the result in rival Epis.
The Ras Laffan stage was the place Østberg had damaged a rear damper within the morning however the Norwegian wanted to push as onerous as ever on the second move. Loubet was 1.5 seconds slower than his morning’s move that had received the stage and he haemorrhaged one other eight seconds to stage winner Østberg. He headed to the ultimate Al-Thakhira stage with a lead of 13.3 seconds. Al-Rawahi strengthened his grip on third place.
May Loubet hold on to seal a memorable win? He clocked a time of 7min 04.9sec and it was enough to fend off a charging Østberg, who was solely in a position to beat the Frenchman by 8.7 and missed out on the win by simply 4.6 seconds. Al-Rawahi and Al-Kuwari held on to seal third and fourth however Al-Attiyah’s cost by way of the sector ended prematurely with a damaged damper on his Volkswagen.
1. Pierre-Louis Loubet (FRA)/Loris Pascaud (FRA) Škoda Fabia RS 1hr 46min 37.9sec
2. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Patrik Barth (SWE) Škoda Fabia RS 1hr 46min 42.5sec
3. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Škoda Fabia Evo 1hr 48min 18.5sec
4. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/James Fulton (IRL) Volkswagen Polo GTI 1hr 48min 50.2sec
5. Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya (QAT)/Ziad Chehab (LEB) Ford Fiesta Mk II 2hr 01min 12.4sec
6. Shaker Jweihan (JOR)/Mustafa Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2hr 06min 56.0sec
7. Shadi Shaban (JOR)/Samer Issa (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2hr 16min 00.5sec
8. Husam Salim (JOR)/Nancy Al-Majali (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2hr 16min 11.6sec
9. Rashid Al-Muhannadi (QAT)/Taha Al-Zadjali (OMN) Subaru WRX-STI 2hr 20min 59.0sec
10. Ihab Al-Shurafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2hr 22min 32.9sec
11. Filippo Epis (ITA)/Gabriele Zanni (ITA) Yamaha YXZ 1000R (T4) 2hr 22min 36.0sec*
12. Fabid Ahmer (IND)/Milen George Cherian (IND) Subaru WRX-STI 2hr 25min 09.5sec
13. Stefano Marrini (ITA)/Stefano Tiraboschi (ITA) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T4) 2hr 25min 54.2sec*
14. Saneem Payyaakkal (ARE)/Musa Sherif (IND) Ford Fiesta Rally 4 2hr 33min 41.0sec
15. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)/Ross Whittock (GBR) Volkswagen Polo GTI 2hr 36min 59.4sec
16. Mohammed Al-Atteya (QAT)/Savvas Laos (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2hr 48min 01.4sec*
* denotes driver NOT registered for the MERC