Al-rajhi Claims Stage Win as Al-attiyah Passes Przygonski to Snatch Overall Lead in Rally Kazakhstan

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Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi put his day one accident to the back of his mind to claim the fastest time on the second selective section of Rally Kazakhstan between Aktau City and Kenderly on Monday.

But, with the Mini All4 Racing driver already heavily penalised by 100 hours for missing most of the opening day’s competitive action, Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah - driving an Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux - was able to snatch the overall lead from Poland’s Jakub Przygonski.

“Okay today, but we have a big penalty,” said Al-Rajhi. “Now we are out of the rally (victory) and we try to enjoy and learn something. After 75km, I caught Nasser and Kuba (Przygonski). I pushed from the start. At the first dunes I see the dust and then, in the second dunes, I catch them and we exit together. I follow because I want to support Kuba. It was a nice stage. There was a lot of water in some places and the dunes were so difficult. They were very slow. There were bushes inside. For T2 and slow car, this will not be easy. There is also mud. Some people will be stuck. It was very fast to the finish.”

The day’s 368km stage wound its way in a loop via the town of Ushtagan and south of the remote oil and gas hub of Zhanaozen to finish 28.5km north of the Kenderly Sea Resort. There were two passage controls, near Ushtagan after 102.92km, and east of Zhanaozen at 223.22km. A stretch of sand dunes before the first checkpoint caused numerous problems for the T2 drivers and the local amateur entrants.

Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel now lead the event by 3min 39sec from Przygonski in the second Mini. “To lead the rally is the most important thing,” said Al-Attiyah at the blustery Kenderly outpost adjacent to the Caspian Sea in southwest Kazakhstan. “Yazeed is very far behind and he won the stage. But my target is to make a good race and now we are leading by a good time. We try to keep going like this because this rally is very new and not easy. Never have we been in an area like this, but we are quite happy. The dunes were not easy. Never in my life have I seen dunes like this.”

Flat tyres were Przygonski’s bugbear on a stage where even the scale of the dunes caught the Pole by surprise. “Today we were opening the stage. It was really nice, a long stage. In some places the kilometres were passing really slowly. There were huge dunes. We did not expect dunes like this here in Kazakhstan. Then, we had two, almost three punctures. We lose about four minutes with this. In the last 40kms, we had a puncture and finished the stage on a flat tyre and we lose a little bit more there. The speed was good and we are still in game and will push tomorrow.”

Fellow Pole Aron Domzala managed to fend off a strong challenge from the Hummer H3 driver Miroslav Zapletal to hold on to third place in the second of the Overdrive Toyotas. Last year’s winner Yuriy Sazonov consolidated his fifth position with the seventh quickest time and fellow Kazakh Yerden Shagirov maintained sixth.

Lithuania’s Antanas Juknevicius benefited from the sixth quickest time to close the gap on Shagirov and Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa overcame delays early in the stage to set the ninth quickest time and move into an unofficial eighth overall.

Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Saeidan managed to pull further clear of Qatar’s Adel Abdulla after the tricky sand dunes cost the T2 runners a lot of time. AMFK President Marat Abykayev also lost time in the sand earlier in the stage and was on course to finish the stage in third place in T2.

Frenchman Claude Fournier was running near the rear of the field and was the sole entrant in T3 after Patrice Garrouste’s unfortunate retirement on Sunday evening. Fournier lost chunks of time before PC1.

2017 Rally Kazakhstan – positions on SS2 (unofficial @ 17.20hrs):

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Mini All4 Racing                             3hrs 55min 55sec

2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive          4hrs 00min 11sec

3. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing                                 4hrs 04min 46sec

4. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive                          4hrs 06min 13sec

5. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO) Hummer H3 Evo VII                           4hrs 08min 47sec

6. Antanas Juknevicius (LTU)/Darius Vaiciulis (LTU) Toyota Hilux                               4hrs 38min 58sec

7. Yerden Shagirov (KAZ)/Dmitro Tsyro (UKR) Toyota Hilux                                      4hrs 40min 25sec

8. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII                       4hrs 41min 45sec

9. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing                          4hrs 42min 47sec

2017 Rally Kazakhstan – positions after SS2 (unofficial @ 17.20hrs):

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive        6hrs 34min 03sec

2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing                               6hrs 37min 42sec

3. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive                         6hrs 41min 55sec

4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO) Hummer H3 Evo VII                          6hrs 45min 35sec

5. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII                      7hrs 21min 10sec

6. Yerden Shagirov (KAZ)/Dmitro Tsyro (UKR) Toyota Hilux                                     7hrs 24min 14sec

7. Antanas Juknevicius (LTU)/Darius Vaiciulis (LTU) Toyota Hilux                              7hrs 28min 13sec

8. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing                         8hrs 25min 50sec