Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser, Spaniard Marc Coma and Pole Rafal Sonik claimed outright victories in their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories of the four-day 2013 Sealine Cross-Country Rally, which finished in southern Qatar Friday.
The trio held on to their overnight advantages in very different circumstances to clinch wins after a punishing all-desert route of over 1,500km had tested both man and machine to the limit. Schlesser, Chilean rider Francisco Lopez and Sonik were triumphant on the fourth and final stage.
Schlesser and his Russian co-driver Konstantin Zhiltsov started the final selective section with an advantage of 25min 46sec over the Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc and Schlesser surged into the lead of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies with his first win of the new season by the eventual margin of 31min 18sec.
“Yes, very happy, a nice but difficult race,” said Schlesser. “It was not so easy and I catch my finger in the steering wheel in a hole today, but the win has put us in a good position.”
Holowczyc reached the finish in second overall with his Mini All4 Racing and the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hiluxes of Venezuelan Nunzio Coffaro and Kazakh Aidyn Rakhimbayev were third and fourth.
Coma needed a very different strategy to claim his second successive victory in the motorcycle category. The factory KTM rider started the final stage with a 2min 04sec advantage over Portugal’s Paulo Gonçalves and knew full well that the Speedbrain team rider would be playing catch up over the early kilometers.
But the Portuguese lost his way a little early on and Coma was able to extend his lead into the passage control. Thereafter, there had been some overnight rain and the Spaniard was a little more cautious to ensure that he kept to the correct route. Gonçalves began to close and Coma saw his rival behind for the first time after around 190km.
The much-vaunted grandstand finish ensued over the closing kilometers and the pair crossed the finish line inseparable, with Gonçalves gaining two minutes but Coma winning the race by just four seconds.
Pole Jakub Przygonski finished third and stage winner Lopez was fourth.
Sonik began the final stage with a massive lead of 1hr 33min 49sec over the UAE’s Obaid Al-Kitbe in the quad class. Last year’s champion made no mistake for the second year running and the quickest time ensured that he maintained his 100 pre cent success rate in Qatar. Al-Kitbe claimed the runner-up spot and local rider Mohammed Abu Issa was third.
Source : Qatar Chronicle
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