PETERHANSEL KING OF THE DESERT AGAIN WHILE SAINZ CLINCHES WORLD CUP TITLE
Final leg heartbreak for Qatar's Al-Attiyah; world champion Coma breaks away to retain Desert Challenge bikes title
French star Stephane Peterhansel Peterhansel recorded his fourth win in the UAE Desert Challenge in his Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution while Spain's Carlos Sainz clinched the drivers title in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup.
The spectacular 2,210km event also saw another Spaniard, Marc Coma, retain his bikes title to underline his domination of this year's FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
But there was heartbreak for Qatar's dashing Nasser Al-Attiyah, who had looked set to leap above Sainz into second place overall before electrical failure shattered his bid in a BMW X3 20kms from the end of the final Emarat Special Stage 6.
The UAE's Yahya Alhelei also endured a last leg shock as a broken radiator threatened to ruin his challenge on the Hertz Special Stage 5. But he battled past that setback with typical determination to hold on to a splendid fifth place overall in his Liberty Prototype.
Sainz's Volkswagen team-mate, South African Giniel de Villiers, finished third overall, with Russian Leonid Novitskiy in a Mitsubishi MPR 96 and Frenchman Nicolas Gibon in a Toyota Land Cruiser completing the top six.
Finishing ninth overall in his factory Kamaz, Firdaus Kabirov won the trucks title. Rustam Minnikhanov, Prime Minister of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, had looked set to take his fifth trucks win in six years but was forced to retire his Kamaz on the last leg. Tenth overall in the bikes category, flying Dutchman Sebastian Husseini won the quads crown.
In the FIA World Cup manufacturers championship, holders Mitsubishi finished tied in a dead heat with Volkswagen who immediately claimed the title on a points countback, although that has yet to be verified by the FIA.
On a dramatic final day, Spain's Jose Luis Monterde suffered a spectacular exit on the Emarat Special Stage when his Schlesser Buggy was wrecked by a high-speed roll, front end over end. Suffering from minor head and hand injuries, Monterde, along with his co-driver, was evacuated by helicopter to Tawam Hospital in Al Ain as a precaution.
Celebrating victory at the finish at Dubai International Marine Club with co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, Peterhansel said: "I always tried the steady approach and I think it was a good strategy.
"I wanted to try and win without taking any risks before the Dakar. I was not fast enough compared to Carlos and Luc in the first few days but it's paid off because both Carlos and Luc made mistakes."
Sainz, who was World Rally Champion in 1990 and 1992, said: "It's good to win the World Cup. It's important for me and this rally is good practice for the Dakar."
Thrilled to retain his FIM world title, Coma said: "The race wasn't easy. It was good to have such a close fight between myself, Cyril and Pal. I just started out to try and catch Cyril today and then when I was in front I had to concentrate hard because one mistake would spoil everything."
Despres, a four-times Desert Challenge winner, said: "I didn't come here looking for second place, but it was my first desert ride since the Dakar last year. Tonight I leave for the Baja in Mexico, so now I have to concentrate on that."
Ullevalseter, like Despres a former world champion, said: "It didn't feel so hot today. I'm very happy with the way the bike performed this race. So it was a successful test for me."
Luc Alphand's spectacular crash on the previous day's ADNOC Special Stage 4 had ensured that Sainz would win the drivers title in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, but the manufacturers' title was still very much up for grabs.
As the penultimate Hertz Special Staged 5 got under way, Volkswagen knew that if Sainz held on to second place overall behind Peterhansel, they would finish in a tie with Mitsubishi in the manufacturers' championship.
Al Attiyah made it clear that he was determined to dominate the last day of the rally, winning the Hertz Special Stage and then closing in on Sainz and second place overall in the early part of the final Emarat Special Stage 6 before disaster struck.
Meanwhile Coma, already assured of being FIM Cross Country Rallies World Champion again in Dubai, gradually extended his lead over Despres. On the previous day's ADNOC Special Stage, Despres had reduced Coma's overall lead from 5 mins 26 secs to just 1 min 28 secs, suggesting that the battle for supremacy in the UAE deserts was not over, but the Spaniard pulled away again to win by 5 mins 6 secs. <pre> Results:
1. Stephane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret - Mitsubishi Pajero T1 17:26:36 2. Carlos Sainz / Michel Perin - Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 T1 17:38:32 3. Giniel de Villiers / Dirk Von Zitzewitz - VW Race Touareg 2 T1 17:55:11 4. Leonid Novitskiy / Oleg Tyupenkin - Mitsubishi MPR 96 T1 21:22:43 5. Yahya Alhelei / Khalid Alkendi - Liberty Prototype T1 22:04:22 6. Nicolas Gibon / Bruno Cattarelli - Toyota Land Cruiser HDJ100 T2 22:14:13 7. Jun Mitsuhashi / Akira Miura - Toyota Land Cruiser HDJ100 T2 22:23:18 8. Balazs Szalai / Laszlo Bunkoczi - Opel Antara RR T1 22:24:14 9. Firdaus Kabirov / V.Mizyukaev / A.Mokeev - KAMAZ 4911 T4 26:44:56 10. Jacques Loomans / Noel Essers - Bowler Wildcat T2 26:55:00
1. Marc Coma (E) KTM 690 M3 18:54:13 2. Cyril Despres (F) KTM 690 M3 18:59:19 3. Pal Ulevalseter (N) KTM 690 M3 19:03:46 4. James West (GB) Honda CRF 450 X 19:39:48 5. Francisco Lopez (CHI) KTM 690 19:48:19 6. Jean Azevedo (BR) KTM 690 M3 19:54:45 7. Michael Angerer (A) KTM 690 M1 20:08:15 8. Steve Blackney (GB) Honda XR 650 RM2 20:22:56 9. Ruben Faria (P) KTM 690 M1 20:40:26 10. Sebastian Husseini (NL) Suzuki LTR 450 Quadracer M4 20:46:40