Nasser Al-Attiyah puts the Skoda into cruise control after day 1 in Kuwait Rally

Nasser Al-Attiyah puts the Skoda into cruise control after day 1 in Kuwait Rally

25.03.2016: 2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2

2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016 
FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2

•                     Second place and slender MERC 2 lead for Turkey’s Yigit Timur

•                     Al-Thefiri third overall and second in MERC 2; gearbox woes for Al-Suwaidi


 Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah may well be able to hit the cruise control button on the final leg of the Kuwait International Rally, after he surged into a staggering lead of 6min 23.2sec after six timed special stages in the southern Kuwait deserts on Friday.

He and French navigator Matthieu Baumel were never troubled during a faultless day, where their Skoda Fabia R5 won every stage to take firm control and push the 11-time regional champion towards a record sixth win in Kuwait.

“A perfect day for our team, really,” reflected Al-Attiyah. “We win all the stages and I have a big lead now. The objectives change now though. We have to conserve that lead and make no mistakes on the last day. It is very important for me to win in Kuwait and extend my lead in the championship.”

A fierce desert battle raged behind the leading drivers in the MERC 2 class that could well become the highlight of the regional championship this year.

Yigit Timur began to up his pace as the day progressed and the Turk snatched the MERC 2 lead and second overall at the end of the sixth stage in a Tok Sport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. By the end of the leg, that advantage was a mere 4.1 seconds.

Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri produced the standout local performance of the day in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X to hold third overall and second in MERC 2, despite a minor incident on the second stage when he damaged the intercooler.

“I am very happy to finish the day in the top three,” said Al-Thefiri. “The Turkish guy (Timur) is second. Four seconds between us. I lost time in the sixth stage and the gap is very small. I have the advantage tomorrow, because I know the stages very well. The most important thing is to finish to celebrate winning the national championship.”

Qatar’s Rashed Al-Nuami and Italian navigator Nicola Arena were fourth and third in MERC 2 and Al-Attiyah’s brother Khalifa Al-Attiyah and Cypriot navigator Savvas Laos rounded off the top five in their Subaru Impreza.

The Lebanese duo of Rodolphe Asmar and experienced co-driver Joseph Matar held sixth and Saudi rookie Rakan Al-Rashed and Finnish navigator Jarkko Kalliolepo were seventh. Germany’s Edith Weiss and the Kuwaiti duo of Saleh Ali and Elie Chachati rounded off the 10 survivors.

Qatar’s Khaled Al-Suwaidi and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini were a comfortable second in their Ford Fiesta R5 until they lost over five minutes with a broken gearbox in stage five and slipped to eighth overall. Ongoing problems cost them further time before they retired before stage seven.

“The stages are really nice. I was not taking risks or adventures. Nasser is not an easy driver to beat, so I was being logical,” said Al-Suwaidi. “I did a mistake with the tyres. I put the hard compound and was afraid of punctures. I will try to push a little more tomorrow.”

“On the fourth stage I have a problem. I lost third gear and continued the stage. On the next stage only the fourth and fifth gears were working. I retired before the last stage.”

The event is being organised by the Basil Salem Al-Sabah Motor Racing Club (BMRC) under the chairmanship of Sheikh Athbi Nayef Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and in conjunction with the General Authority for Sport.

Day 1 – as it happened


Al-Attiyah headed to the southern extremities of Kuwait to tackle the opening 13.95km Nuwaiseeb special, located near to the Saudi Arabian border, with a lead of 3.8 seconds over Al-Suwaidi. The Qatari set the target time of 7min 55.4sec and that was sufficient to extend his advantage to 20.8 seconds. The writing was already on the wall for his rivals.

Al-Thefiri led the MERC 2 contingent overnight and his Friday morning stage opener of 8min 32.1sec was an impressive start. It gave the Kuwaiti an MERC 2 lead of 21.02 seconds after the opening desert stage.

The third 23.87km Al-Kheiran special was slightly further north of Nuwaiseeb and was located to the east of Kuwait’s highway 40. But it failed to change Al-Suwaidi’s fortunes and another storming time by Al-Attiyah extended his advantage to 42.7 seconds.

Timur was in excellent form in MERC 2 and he snatched the lead from Al-Thefiri with the quickest time after the Kuwaiti clouted a ditch and lost turbo boost. Al-Nuami moved up to third, but the leading six drivers were closely matched and this set up the prospect of a fascinating tussle for the podium.

The final stage of the loop at Al-Zour, close to a major new oil refinery project in the south, offered 23.87km. Al-Attiyah was fastest again and headed towards the midday regroup and service in Julai’a with a lead of 1min 07.3sec.

Al-Thefiri had repaired his damaged intercooler and managed to finish the special in 15min 46.3sec and regained a 17.2-second advantage over Timur at Julai’a.  “I was fastest on the first stage and I was close to Al-Suwaidi. The second stage, one kilometre after the start, there was a ditch, and I hit it hard and we hit the intercooler and lost the boost.

I competed 20km and lost a lot of time – maybe more than a minute from the times in the local rally. On this stage I did some changes to the intercooler. There was some damage and we fix it and we recovered.”

Leader Al-Attiyah said: “I finish three stages and I am leading and was fastest on all three stages.  I feel comfortable and in a safe mood with the Skoda. The Michelin tyres are working well in Kuwait. Everything is fine.”

A repeat of the three stages was on the agenda for the afternoon and Al-Attiyah beat his morning time by 7.1 seconds, but Al-Suwaidi was in serious trouble and gearbox issues cost the Qatari just under five minutes and dropped him to eighth.

Al-Thefiri was four seconds slower than his morning run, but he inherited second overall and headed towards the re-run of Kheiran 4min 14.2sec behind the outright leader. He managed to extend his MERC 2 advantage over Timur to 20.1 seconds, despite being beaten by Khalifa Al-Attiyah in the stage. All 13 starters completed the special.

Al-Attiyah was noticeably slower in the re-run of Kheiran, although he reached the start of stage seven holding an outright advantage of 5min 08.2sec.  Al-Suwaidi’s problems were ongoing and the Fiesta driver continued to haemorrhage time to his rivals with only fourth and fifth gears working and a transmission change required at the end of the day.

Al-Nuami began to apply the pressure on Al-Thefiri and closed to within 5.1 seconds of the Kuwaiti heading to the last stage. But Timur was the new MERC 2 leader, after the Turk set the second quickest time and moved into a lead of 16.9 seconds. Abdullah Al-Kuwari hit turbo trouble and retired.

There were no major dramas for Al-Attiyah in the stage and the Qatari cruised to the overnight halt with a massive lead, but all eyes were on the MERC 2 fight, as Al-Suwaidi retired with his transmission woes before the last stage.

Tomorrow (Saturday), teams tackle the remaining six desert special stages of the event, commencing with the first of two runs through the 16.61km of the Bnaider stage. The ceremonial finish is scheduled for 16.30hrs outside the Safir Hotel and Residences in Fintas, south of Kuwait City.

- Neil Perkins, also photos


25.03.2016 / MaP

More News

Nasser Al-Attiyah leads after opening Kuwait Rally stage at Sirbb
•    Second place for Qatar’s Al-Suwaidi; NR4 class lead and third for Al-Thefiri •    Competitors face six gravel special stages in sou more >>
Kuwait International Rally standings after stage 1
2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016  FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 22016 Kuwait International Rally – positions after SS1:1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT) more >>
Qatar's Al-Attiyah aims for win in Kuwait Rally
... Start Thursday afternoon at Sirbb 2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016  FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2•    Kuwait’s Al-Thafiri h more >>
Germany's Edith Weiss eager for success against the men in Kuwait Rally
2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016  FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2•            &nb more >>
Heroes look to shine in this week's Kuwait International Rally
2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016  FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2•            &nb more >>
The show goes on as Jordan Rally confirms
Big social and sporting event will be watched by millions across the regionJordan is preparing to welcome the cream of the region’s motor sporting community when it hosts its world-famous Jordan Rally from May 5-7.Featuri more >>
Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah tops impressive entry list for Kuwait International Rally
2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2•              & more >>
BMRC Lays on 13 challenging special stages for Kuwait's round of Regional Rally Series
2016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2 •                     Generou more >>
Nissan Middle-East confirms title support for Saudi Arabia's Hail International Rally
HA’IL NISSAN INTERNATIONAL RALLY – March 9-14, 2016•    Saudi rally officials complete checks of route through An Nafud desert more >>
BMRC announces Kuwait's second round of FIA Middle East Rally Series
...will run on March 24-26, 20162016 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 24-26, 2016FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 2&bull more >>
Khalid Al Qassimi wins Dubai Rally
DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY (19-21/11/2015)•    Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson win Dubaï International Rally in a DS 3 RRC.•    The Abu Dhabi driver won the home event with a lead of 57 more >>
Mansour Bin Jabr seals second in Group N with impressive final day in Dubai Rally
37th Dubai International RallyFIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 8November 19-21, 2015 •    Abu Dhabi Racing’s Khalid Al-Qassimi wins Dubai Rally for third timeEmira more >>
Mansour Bin Jabr makes impressive return on opening leg of Dubai Rally
•         Abu Dhabi Racing’s Khalid Al-Qassimi holds lead after day one in Dubai Rally  Emirati Mansour Bin Jabr made a dramatic return to international rallying at the 37th Dubai International more >>
Al Qassimi aims for top spot in Dubai Rally
DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY •    Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and his co-driver Chris Patterson will compete in the Dubai International Rally on board of the DS 3 RRC. more >>
Emirati Mansour Bin Jabr aims for Group N victory in Dubai International Rally
... and races in memory of fallen UAE troops in Yemen conflict37th Dubai International RallyFIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 8November 19-21, 2015 •    Bin more >>
Khalid Al Qassimi on the podium in Oman Rally
OMAN INTERNATIONAL RALLY (05-07/11/2015) – FINISH•    Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson ended the Oman Rally on the podium in their DS 3 RRC.•&nb more >>
Qatar's Al-Attiyah equals Ben Sulayem's long-standing MERC record with victory in Oman
2015 Oman International Rally November 5-7, 2015 2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 7 •    Qatar’s Al-Kuwari finishes second; Abu Dhabi Racing&rsq more >>
Qatar's Al-Attiyah wins all Friday stages to extend lead in Oman International Rally
2015 Oman International Rally November 5-7, 2015 2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 7Friday, November 6th, 2015•    Abu Dhabi more >>
Oman International Rally entry gets underway in Muscat on Thursday
2015 Oman International RallyNovember 5-7, 2015 2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 7•    Qatar’s Al-Attiyah and Abu Dhabi’s Al-Qassimi top impressive entry•  &nbs more >>
Khalid Al Qassimi to lead DS 3 charge in Oman International Rally
OMAN INTERNATIONAL RALLY (05-07/11/2015) – PREVIEW•    Three DS 3s will start in Oman later this week, entered by Abu Dhabi Racing.•    Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and his co-driver Chris Patte more >>
New-look Oman International Rally set for MERC lift-off in November
2015 Oman International RallyNovember 5-7, 2015 2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 7•    Challenging route being finalised for Oman’s re more >>
Qatar's Al-Attiyah clinches 11th FIA Middle East Rally title with ninth win in Jordan
2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6JORDAN RALLY 2015 •    Podium finish and Group N victory for Jordan’s Salem and Al-Majali•    Qatar’s Abdula more >>
Nasser Al-Attiyah cruises into massive Jordan Rally lead after leg1
•    Jordanian duo of Salem and Juma in Group N fight; Al-Kuwari in fourth•    Qatar’s Al-Naimi and Al-Suwaidi join Saudi’s Al-Rajhi on retirement l more >>
Saudi Rally star Yazeed Al-Rajhi supports Syrian refugees in Jordan
Yazeed Al- Rajhi visits orphans during his preparations for the Jordan RallyAmman, Jordan: Rally star Yazeed Al-Rajhi has paid a visit to orphans left homeless as a result of the Syrian conflict during his preparations for this weeken more >>
Local drivers out to thwart Salah bin Eidan's group N title challenge in Jordan Rally
JORDAN Rally 20152015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6•         Defending Group N champion Husam Salem heads local contingent•   more >>
Al-Attiyah closes in on Bin Sulayem record in Jordan
Rally legend heads to Jordan after clinching another World title in MoroccoAmman, Jordan: There is just no stopping rally legend Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah who is on his way to Jordan having clinched his second FIA Wo more >>
No damage to Jordan Rally stages after heavy rain
Jordan Rally given a clean bill of health following a wet weekThe Jordan Rally stages have been given a clean bill of health following heavy rains, which hit the Kingdom this week.Preparations have been bang on track for the leading round on the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which gets underway from Abdoun next Thursday afternoon, but a more >>
Al Attiyah : Qatar plays an important role in supporting the woman in motor sport
FIA vice president , FIM deputy president , QMMF president invited all concerned  international motorsport stakeholders to support the woman and focus on the creative aspects in order to sustain the volume of achievements instead of the administrative works only more >>
Jordan Rally set for girl power
Meet the ladies who are proving a point that it is a sport for all While most of the headlines building up to next week’s Jordan Rally will no doubt focus on Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah’s bid to win the FIA more >>
Nasser Al-Attiyah can clinch Championship in Jordan Rally
Rally legend wins thriller in Cyprus to step closer to 11th driver title Qatar rally legend Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah can clinch his 11th Middle East Rally Championship title in 13 years when the series m more >>
Jordan Rally much more than a sporting event
HRH Prince Feisal highlights the vital role played by three-day spectacular HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, Chairman of Jordan Motorsport, has highlighted the v more >>
Al Attiyah : We started to collect the harvest of our team work yields
FIA - MENA meeting which was held yesterday Wednesday afternoon at ATCL - headquarter - Kaslik – Jounieh- Lebanon, the meeting was headed by Mr. Nasser Al Attiyah - FIA Vice President , the meeting discussed many proposals and approved many decisions related to Motorsport in MENA , abo more >>
Al Attiyah mentions the high standard preparations for Lebanon International Rally 2015
Mr. Nasser Al Attiyah – FIA vice president stated that he is willing to submit his full support for the 4th round of the Middle East Championship for rallies – Lebanon International Rally – version 38, during the period between 4:6 Sep.2015. He mentioned the volume more >>
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel eager to impress in Egypt
The Qatar Rally Team duo of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel are aiming to add to their outstanding string of victories when they speed away from the start line of the 2015 Pharaons Rally. The five-stage cross-country race is the latest appointment for the pair in wh more >>
Another podium for Khalid Al Qassimi in Iran
SHIRAZ INTERNATIONAL RALLY (07-08/05/2015) – FINISH•    Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson finished in third place at the Shiraz International Rally in their DS 3 RRC.•    The Abu D more >>
Nasser Al Attiyah is the champion of Shiraz Rally 2015, Bin Eidan at the top of group N.
Shiraz International Rally 2015The first day of Shiraz 6 stages- k.m 342.2 length rally has witnessed dramatic weather changes and heavy rains that affected the plans and strategies of all the participants, the Qatari champion Abdulaziz Al Kawari was more >>
Khalid Al Qassimi to participate in Shiraz International Rally
SHIRAZ INTERNATIONAL RALLY (07-08/05/2015) – PREVIEW•    After claiming sixth place in Argentina, Al Qassimi heads to Iran to participate in Shiraz International Rally.•    Al Qassimi more >>
Shiraz Rally with a great participation, the event will start today afternoon
Hani Shaban: Shiraz rally stages are in high techniques and they require special performance style Hani Shaban- clerck of course of rally Shiraz international 2015- confirmed that all issues related to organizing the third round of Middle Ea more >>
Comfortable Rally Jeddah victory for Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk
RALLY JEDDAH 2015, April 29-May 2•    UAE’s Yayha Al-Helai claims second overall; third place for Moneef Al-Sulaimani•    Second Jeddah motorcycle and quad class win more >>


2001-2022 full copyright