QATAR'S NASSER AL-ATTIYAH FINISHES FIFTH OVERALL IN UAE DESERT CHALLENGE
Germany's Kleinschmidt and Spain's Monterde in 6th and 8th positions
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec headed a successful UAE Desert Challenge campaign for the X-Raid Team by clinching fifth overall with the third fastest time on the final selective section from Moreeb to Dubai on Friday.
Team mates Jutta Kleinschmidt and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner finished sixth overall on the final round of the FIA Cross-Country World Cup, while Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marie Lurquin were eighth. Brazilian Paulo Nobre was forced to retire with engine problems earlier in the event.
Al-Attiyah headed into the final selective sections on Friday behind twice WRC champion Carlos Sainz in the starting order. But the Qatari lost over eight minutes in the opening high-speed selective, where Frenchman Jean- Louis Schlesser set his first fastest time.
Al-Attiyah suffered a failing clutch cylinder and this was replaced after the selective and he was able to continue into the final timed test to set the third fastest time.
"I have never driven in such high temperatures on a rally for such a sustained period of time," said Al-Attiyah. "It was very tough. Our car was fantastic. We have learned a lot and I am sure that we will be able to improve even more on the Dakar. The team solved any problems we had very well."
Kleinschmidt and Thorner started the final day in sixth position, albeit under pressure from Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka. They were separated by 2:42 min at the start of the day and the Japanese gained 1:25min in SS5. The German X3 CC driver headed into the closing kilometres with a slender 1:17 min advantage, but set the fourth fastest time in the last section to preserve her sixth place.
Monterde and Lurquin began the day in eighth position and maintained their place over the final two specials, setting the eighth quickest time in the final section to confirm their place inside the top 10.
"This was a very constructive and useful rally for us," said X-Raid Team Director Sven Quandt. "We have been able to assess the life of individual components and will be able to benefit from this on the Dakar. Our drivers have performed well. Nasser took it easier on the final stage, but Jutta pushed this morning to make sure that she kept sixth position. I am very pleased with the result."