Apr 05, 2018
· Three top-10 results for X-raid
· Sensational rally comeback of Luc Alphand
The Liwa-Desert dunes proved to be a good place for X-raid. In the cockpit of their MINI John Cooper Works Rally, Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) finished second in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Meanwhile, Stephan Schott (GER) and Paulo Fiúza (POR) in a MINI ALL4 Racing clinched a fantastic fifth place – the best result the German secured in his off-road racing career to date. By coming eighth, Kris Rosenberger (AUT) and Nicola Bleicher (GER) made it to the top 10 in their maiden race with a MINI ALL4 Racing and at the same time, Luc Alphand (FRA) and Andreas Schulz (GER) took their MINI John Cooper Works Buggy to 15th place, thus finishing two positions ahead of Eugenio Amos (ITA) and Filipe Palmeiro (POR) in a MINI ALL4 Racing. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) and Timo Gottschalk (GER) unfortunately had to withdraw at the end of stage two for health reasons.
Przygonski made a great start into the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the third round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, and started as leader into the third day of the event. Unfortunately, the young Pole got stuck – an incident that costed him valuable minutes and made him drop back to second position behind Martin Prokop. On the following days, closing the gap to Prokop proved to be very hard and he finished runner-up behind the Czech. “Although we could have won the event we are delighted with having finished second in Abu Dhabi,” said Przygonski who now also holds second position in the FIA World Cup standings. “After all, we got stuck twice and lost a lot of time. Our battle with Martin Prokop was great. The MINI John Cooper Works Rally ran flawlessly and our pace was really good. In Qatar we will push again hard.”
Stephan Schott also was delighted with his achievements. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is the German’s favourite event. He did really well in several editions of the rally in Abu Dhabi. “It was a tough race,” the German said afterwards. “The heat was enormous and the sand extremely soft. But the MINI ran flawlessly and we did not encounter a single problem hampering us. Unfortunately it took me some time to re-adapt to racing in the dunes and on day two we got stuck for 37 minutes. But this proved to be our only mistake in the entire rally.”
Rosenberger and Bleicher also impressed. They virtually were thrown in at the deep end, in the ADDC: due to shipping problems, they had no chance of executing a shakedown or contesting the prologue, with their MINI ALL4 Racing. But the Austrian and German pairing familiarised themselves quickly with the MINI and made it to the top 10 right away.
Alphand delivered in sensational style, in his comeback rally – although his competitiveness was not reflected by his 15th place. It was the Frenchmans first off-road rally after a multi-year motor-racing break and he convinced with two stage wins and a total of four top-five results. “I am over the moon,” the Frenchman said. “I love this rally and the dunes. This event also was a test for my neck and everything is fine. Without the gearbox problems we certainly would have been a factor in the fight for the win. The buggy is a great design and has got a lot of potential.”
Like Rosenberger, Amos also had to cope with a real kick start into the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: in the dunes of stage one. The Italian did a good job but could not finish the fourth stage due to a technical problem and received a massive time penalty. In the final special stage he finished sixth, thus demonstrating what could have been possible.
Sven Quandt: “This rally was anything but easy as the sand was very soft. But the event ran well for us and we were able to demonstrate the potential of the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. Luc did a fantastic job and Kuba scored important points for the FIA World Cup ranking. Meanwhile, Kris and Eugenio also delivered in great style, their first race for us.”
The next X-raid appearance can be witnessed in the Qatar Cross-Country Rally, from 17th to 22nd April – the fourth event of the 2018 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup calendar.
ADDC overall standings
1. M. Prokop (CZE) / D. Pabiska (CZE) Ford – 17h 06m 57s
2. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI JCW Rally – 17h 20m 28s
3. V. Vasilyev (RUS) / K. Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI cooper – 17h 53m 27s
4. C. Drespres (FRA) / S. Ravussin (CHE) Ford – 18h 38m 36s
5. S. Schott (GER) / P. Fiúza (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 20h 24m 16s
8. K. Rosenberger (AUT) / N. Bleicher (GER) MINI ALL4 Racing – 22h 22m 46s
15. L. Alphand (FRA) / A. Schulz (GER) MINI JCW Buggy – 26h 24m 22s
18. E. Amos (ITA) / F. Palmeiro (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 118h 11m 24s
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