The first round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies ended in Qatar Peninsula. The crew of Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel won this race for the sixth time. Over the past five days and six special stages Al-Attiyah was able to create a solid advantage – to the finish line the gap of the second place holder Yazeed Al-Rajhi to the rally raid winner was 11 minutes.
The Pole Jakub Przygonski, current World Cup holder, secured the third position, the G-Energy Team crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov followed him. However, after the last special stage finish the cars of the leading crews were sent for inspection by the technical commission, where the MINI John Cooper Works Rally of the Polish driver was four kilograms lighter than it is prescribed by the competition technical requirements. The commission re-checked the result three times, but the scales showed 1,846 kilograms, when the allowed minimum weight is 1,850 kilograms. According to the rules, all technical liquids were filled in by the working level, there were two spare wheels, and the rest of the equipment that the crews take on board the car during the race was removed. Also technical commissioners had questions about tyre marking; tyres were worn out much. The decision of the sports commissioners board (the highest sports authority throughout the competition) declared the final disqualification of the Pole’s crew with the starting number 201. Thus the Russian duet in the BMW X3 CC moved from the fourth line of the general classification to the third one, receiving the first points of the season! Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “Today we’ve started and finished alone, we haven’t met anyone on the track. Probably, the fifth day was best one – there were no technical problems and we didn’t puncture the tyres. We drove carefully at the special stage to avoid punctures and everything went well – the tyres were not damaged, and the engine worked fine. There were no technical problems with the car, like in previous days, so everything is good. In general, we had a lot of technical issues in the race – we struggled with different issues, the whole raid turned out to be a kind of the car “setting”. Two more races in the Middle East are planned for the nearest future – Baja Dubai International that will start on 7 March and Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge that is scheduled for the end of March and the beginning of April.