Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Mohammed Abu Issa retained their leads in the car and quad categories, while Marc Coma kept a slender motorcycle advantage after a tricky navigational 404.18km fourth selective section of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally.
Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel turned an overnight lead of 39min 38sec into an advantage of 1hr 05min 11sec over Polish Toyota Hilux driver Adam Malysz with one stage remaining in the fourth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
“I am quite happy,” said Al-Attiyah. “I had no reason to push today. It is very easy to make a mistake here. Matthieu has been excellent all week. No problems with the car and we just have to do the same again one more time. This rally is now at a high level. The navigation is probably the most difficult of them all.”
Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc lost his chance of taking a top finish with overheating issues on Wednesday, but the Mini driver stormed back with a useful performance on day four.
He was leading the stage all the way to PC5 before losing time with navigational issues. “
This rally is very different,” said the Pole. “This is a co-driver’s rally. This is not for the driver. You push like hell for hours and then one mistake and it’s back to square one again.”
Meanwhile in the bike category, Coma has a lead of 41 seconds and starts two minutes ahead of his rival.
“I know it’s going to be difficult now,” said Coma. “It was a very hard day with a very high level of navigation. I lost my rhythm a little towards the end and I now have to give it a go tomorrow. That’s all I can do.”
After his navigational woes on Wednesday, Poland’s Rafal Sonik caught Abu Issa, the pair rode together and the Pole managed to win the quad stage by 5min 07sec.
Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa takes a comfortable unofficial advantage of 29min 14sec into the final selective section on Friday and, barring a late disaster, should snatch the Sealine title from the defending champion.
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