2006 UAE Desert Challenge
Leg 3 Moreeb - Moreeb
Liaison 6 km, Special 218 km, Liaison 69 km - Total 293 km

Kleinschmidt sixth fastest and up to sixth place; Spaniard Monterde holds seventh overall

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec moved up to fifth overall in the UAE Desert Challenge after setting the fourth fastest time in leg three through the sandy wastelands of the Rub Al Khali region of the United Arab Emirates.

The Qatari held seventh position at the start of the leg and was soon into a flying pace, with the Doha driver passing team mate Monterde before PC1 and running as the fastest car on the stage.

He arrived at the second passage control a mere one second behind the defending Desert Challenge champion Stephane Peterhansel. But lost time in the closing kilometres with navigational problems and slipped to fourth on the day, but up to fifth overall.

"I gave it my best shot today and proved that we have a very competitive car," said Al-Attiyah. "I was matching the best in the world with all their team resources, so this bodes well for the future."

Germany's Jutta Kleinschmidt and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner began the morning in eighth overall. They climbed up the leader board on Tuesday, despite losing 25 minutes in soft sand. Jutta was fifth fastest at both PC1 and PC2 and completed the stage in sixth place to hold a similar position in the overall classification.

Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marie Lurquin were sixth overall at the start of the leg, but held little hope of holding off their team mates Al-Attiyah and Guehennec through the dunes in leg three. They completed the selective section behind their team mates and slipped to seventh overall.

Brazilian driver Paulo Nobre and co-driver Luiz Palu were granted permission to restart in 24th place this morning after Tuesday's engine- related problems. But the car was still stranded in the desert at the start of selective section and they failed to make the restart.

Foggy conditions are prevalent in the UAE at this time of year in the mornings and poor visibility hampered the organisers. The selective section was delayed and shortened to finish at PC4, with crews returning to the Moreeb Hill bivouac on a tarmac road via Arada.

The penultimate leg of this year's UAE Desert Challenge and includes a tricky selective section through the Rub Al-Khali.

The 378.90 km timed section starts six kilometres from the bivouac and passes south of Khis. The finish is four kilometres from the second passage control on the road to Al-Dhafrah.

-credit: tak