Schlesser, Coma and Sonik prevail

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 on Friday.

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Published: Sun 28 Apr 2013, 10:53 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 12:01 PM

The trio held on to their overnight advantages in very different circumstances to clinch the 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.

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 kilometres.

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 kilometres 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% success rate in Qatar. Al-Kitbe claimed the runner-up spot and local rider Mohammed Abu Issa was third.

“This rally was much more difficult that any of us expected,” said Sonik. “It was physically demanding, but also we had the strong winds, the rocks and the navigation. I am so happy to finish the last stage with no mistakes and make sure I get the win.”

Positions


Cars

1. Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA)/Konstantin Zhiltstov (RUS) 2hr 49min 15sec

2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) 2hr 54min 47sec

3. Peter van Merksteijn Jnr. (NLD)/Eddy Chevallier (BEL) 2hr 57min 32sec

4. Nunzio Coffaro (VEN)/Daniel Meneses (VEN) 2hr 58min 55sec

5. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/Vladimir Demiyanenko (RUS) 3hr 01min 37sec

Bikes

1. Francesco Lopez (CHL) KTM 450 2hr 31min 56sec

2. Jakub Przygonski (POL) KTM 450 2hr 33min 46sec

3. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Speedbrain 2hr 34min 38sec

4. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450 2hr 36min 38sec

5. Juan Carlos Salvatierra (BOL) Honda 2hr 40min 59sec

Quads

1. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700 3hr 14min 39sec

2. Adel-Hussain Abdullah (QAT) Yamaha Raptor 700 3hr 35min 26sec

3. Pablo Copetti (ARG) Yamaha Raptor 700 3hr 35min 45sec

4. Mohammed Al Shamsi (UAE) Honda TRX 700 3hr 36min 18sec

5. Obaid Al-Kitbe (UAE) Honda TRX 700 3hr 44min 05sec

6. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Yamaha Raptor 700 3hr 44min 45sec



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