Al Attiyah stays in lead

AL AIN — Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson led the Adnoc Distribution UAE International Rally after nine timed special stages in the Sweihan region of the Abu Dhabi emirate yesterday.

By A Correspondent

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Published: Fri 4 Feb 2005, 11:32 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:28 PM

The event is being run under the patronage of Lieutenant-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Minister of Interior, and finishes today in Al Ain.

Al Attiyah had begun the day's eight special stages in the deserts around Sweihan a mere two seconds ahead of the defending FIA Middle East rally champion Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi in the Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX, with the UAE's Rashid Al Ketbi in third position in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8. Over the opening dusty desert stages a furious battle waged between the leading Subarus and Mitsubishis, but the Qatari was in inspired form and opened up a commanding lead over the first two stages to hold a 48-second advantage over Al Qasimi after SS3. He extended that lead over Al Qasimi to 2m 05s at the end of the day. "I pushed this morning to get a small lead," said Al Attiyah. "We had no problems with the car, but maybe it is time to take it a little more cautiously now."

Al Qasimi was content to settle for second position: "I wanted to find a pace which kept me in the hunt without taking risks. This is a championship of nine long and difficult rallies and the person who goes out with all guns blazing is not necessarily going to be the winner. The plan is to collect points and make sure we reach the finish. We hit a bump on the fifth stage and we catapulted into the air. We landed on a rock and I was a bit worried because I heard a noise under the car. I thought it was damaged. I have been taking it easy — no risks, just a fast competitive pace which I hope will take me to the finish."

Dubai's Rashid Al Ketbi was driving in a mature and responsible manner to hold third place.

Qatar's Khalifa Al Attiyah held fourth position in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7, Saudi Arabia's Ahmed Al Sabban was fifth, ahead of the UAE's Sadiq Fadhel, Jordan's Faris Bustami, Bahrain's Hassan A-Sadadi who was delayed near the end, Kuwaiti youngster Mashari Al Dafari and Britain's David Scialom. Qatar's Misfer Al Marri lost a top three position with mechanical problems in the seventh stage and slipped down the leaderboard. Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas was tackling his first UAE Rally for three years, as he bids to win the series for the first time. But the Cypriot rolled his Mitsubishi in the fifth stage and was joined by Lebanon's Michel Saleh on the list of retirements. Saleh suffered engine problems.

The UAE's Shaikh Abdullah Al Qasimi had been confident of a top finish in his new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 after a successful test session before the rally, but the multiple regional Group N champion succumbed to engine problems in the second stage.

"I don't know when my luck is going to change," said Shaikh Abdullah.

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