Al-attiyah Extends His Lead Over Przygonski in Rally Kazakhstan as Al-rajhi Gets Stuck in the Dunes

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Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah claimed his first stage victory in Rally Kazakhstan and extended his overall lead, after the fourth selective section of 274.17km across some of the remotest desert terrain in the Mangystau oblast, on Wednesday.

Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel, crewing an Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux, began the day second on the road and looked set to potentially cede the stage win to Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk for a third successive day. But the Saudi's Mini John Cooper Works Rally fell into a deep hole in a stretch of tricky sand dunes close to the finish and the crew had to wait for Mohammed Abu Issa to arrive in a second Mini and offer support. Al-Attiyah duly reached the finish 58 seconds in front of Jakub Przygonski, while Al-Rajhi eventually dropped 1hr 50min to the stage winner.

Przygonski began the day 8min 53sec behind the defending FIA World Cup champion and now finds himself 9min 51sec adrift and still coming under pressure from third-placed Aron Domzala in a second Toyota Hilux. Domzala was only two seconds behind his fellow Pole on the day’s stage after a fascinating tussle between the two.

Al-Attiyah said: “It was very hard today. It is a very interesting rally. We are happy to keep our lead and stay like this. The Mini is pushing a lot here. In a straight line the Mini is faster. But we took no risks and we try to manage each day. We did not see Yazeed. It was maybe a different route (he was on). We saw Timo (Gottschalk) but not the car. Tomorrow we have the opposite stage to the second day and we know it will not be easy.”

“It was a nice fight with Aron today,” said Przygonski. “We saw he was following us, but we pushed a lot in the last 50km. The stage was really nice. For me, it was the best stage so far on this race. There were dunes, some sand piste, some fast bits and it was nice to drive. We stopped for a few seconds in the dunes. We passed Yazeed. They were in a bowl in the dunes and it was hard to move the car.”

The day’s fourth selective section of 276.2km started after a liaison of 111.1km from Kenderly to the Senek road on the easterly side of Zhanaozen. The special wound its way in a clockwise - almost figure-of-eight-style - loop back to a finish through that fateful series of dunes near the village of Senek.

Yuriy Sazonov recorded his best stage finish of the campaign with the fourth quickest time and Miroslav Zapletal’s mechanical issues midway through the stage lifted last year’s rally winner into fourth position and dropped Zapletal to an unofficial sixth.

Yerden Shagirov began the day in sixth in his Toyota Hilux, but race officials finalised additional time penalties for the first three legs of the rally on Wednesday morning and the Kazakh driver was penalised by 6hrs 45mins. That pushed him down from sixth to ninth overall.

Lithuania’s Antanas Juknevicius, T2 leader Yasir Saiedan and Adel Abdulla were the main beneficiaries and climbed to sixth, seventh and eighth overall at the start of the day, but Zapletal’s problems promoted Juknevicius into fifth. Adel Abdulla lost chunks of time early in the stage and fell further behind Saeidan in the battle for T2 honours, although the Qatari remains one of only nine drivers still running without at least 100 hours of time penalties.

Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa was on course for a top five finish until he stopped to assist Al-Rajhi in the dunes, butAMFK President Marat Abykayev, Pavel Loginov, Dmitry Pitulov, Zhanat Zhalimbetov and Kirill Chernenkov made it safely through the special. One of the performances of the day came from the Russian driver Viktor Khoroshavtsev, who set the fifth quickest time in his BMW X3 CC.

2017 Rally Kazakhstan – positions on SS4 (unofficial @ 15.35hrs):

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive        2hrs 50min 43sec

2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing                               2hrs 51min 41sec

3. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive                        2hrs 51min 43sec

4. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII                     3hrs 03min 47sec

5. Viktor Khoroshavtsev (RUS)Anton Nikolaev (RUS) BMW X3 CC                             3hrs 06min 37aec

6. Yerden Shagirov (KAZ)/Dmitro Tsyro (UKR) Toyota Hilux                                    3hrs 09min 10sec

7. Antanas Juknevicius (LTU)/Darius Vaiciulis (LTU) Toyota Hilux                              3hrs 13min 45sec


2017 Rally Kazakhstan – positions after SS4 (unofficial @ 15.35hrs):

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive          13hrs 42min 35sec

2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing                                 13hrs 52min 26sec

3. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive                           13hrs 57min 06sec

4. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII                        14hrs 52min 57sec

5. Antanas Juknevicius (LTU)/Darius Vaiciulis (LTU) Toyota Hilux                                15hrs 43min 41sec

6. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO) Hummer H3 Evo VII                            16hrs 20min 54sec

7. Yasir Saeidan (SAU)/Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Land Cruiser T2                         18hrs 20min 14sec

8. Adel Abdullah (QAT)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Patrol T2                             20hrs 13min 58sec

9. Yerden Shagirov (KAZ)/Dmitro Tsyro (UKR) Toyota Hilux                                       21hrs 54min 57sec