Qatar Cross Country Rally
Thursday 20 April
Third stage: Losail - Losail
Connection: 88,48 km - Special: 353,02 km - Connection: 62,45 km - Total: 503,95 km
This morning, the wind was blowing with gusts of more than 50 km/h lifting the sand on the crests of the dunes and in the plains, thus greatly reducing visibility. After an 88 km connection, the start of the third Special was located not far from the place where the old bivouac was located, near the Sealine Resort.
This morning, Matthias Walkner (KTM) left his road book at the hotel. Fortunately, KTM's Team Manager, Jordi Viladoms, had time to go and fetch it and allowing him to depart on time. This adrenaline and stress relief seems to have had a positive effect on the young Austrian who won the Special with more than a 3 ' advantage over of Paulo Gonçalves (Honda). "After the refuelling," said the Honda rider, "I attacked to catch Sam and then I opened the track for 40 km.” Fourth in the Special, but the general leader, Sam explains his situation: “At the refuelling, I understood that I was riding too fast and that it was not good for my strategy. So I dropped the pace and let Paulo catch up with me ... "
On the finish, Matthias Walkner (KTM), as always was smiling: "It was a long and hard stage. There was a lot of wind and so, at times, there was no visibility, which made it frustrating to find the tracks. In the dunes, Sam did a great job because he left his trace everywhere ... After the refuelling, the navigation was really difficult and I lowered a bit the rhythm, but I am happy with the day, a victory is always good to take!" Third of the Special , Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) finished ahead of Sunderland, Pela Renet (Husqvarna), Kevin Benavides (Honda) and Antoine Meo (KTM).
In the quad class last night, Alexis Hernandez (Yamaha) was awarded a penalty of 40 '(on the overall standings) for missing two waypoints.
Rafal Sonik (Yamaha), who was second behind the Peruvian this morning, won the special with a little more than 2 ' on his opponent. "I quickly caught Alexis in the first dunes. Then I did the navigation and he followed me. But it did not bother me because it pushed me to ride faster and to navigate well. Because of the wind, it was not the only dust but also the sand that was flying ... In addition to navigation, there were many changes of pace that were not easy to manage. It was a real Dakar special!” Guatemala, Rodolfo Guillioli (Yamaha) is third followed by Kees Koolen (Barren).
Camelia Liparoti (Yamaha) 5th quad in 6h11’10 says: « I solved the problem of shock absorbers that I had yesterday and used the old ones and my quad has a much better behavior. Today I rode with Lucas Innocente but I lack top speed. That said, this rally is an excellent school for me because I do not particularly like this kind of terrain and it forces me to learn to read and negotiate it as well as to stay focused on navigation. It is not easy.”
Judith Tomaselli / Photo @RallyZone