After a specially convened meeting of the Jury, which took place at 9am on Tuesday morning, 13 motorcycles, 7 quads, plus 2 ‘non FIM’ quads have been authorised to start the second round of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, namely the Qatar Cross-Country Rally.
Yesterday the thermometer did not climb beyond 35 ° C and the slight breeze that blew across the paddock of the circuit of Losail made for a very pleasant day of administrative and technical checks. At 5 pm, the drivers were invited to a go-kart race where Sunderland, Meo, Walkner and Renet had a lot of fun while Kevin Benavides (Honda) and Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) bandaged their wounds after both crashing in testing.
This afternoon, in order to organise their order for the start of the second event, the riders will contest a 4.85-kilometre prologue on the motocross circuit located near the Losail circuit. At the end of this Super Special, the first 15 will be able to choose, from the top 15 places, their starting position for the first Special.
Sam Sunderland (KTM) is on top form after his victory in the Dakar and ten days ago at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, but he will have to beware of his opponents including teammate Matthias Walkner (KTM), Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) the current FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion, and Paulo Gonçalves (Honda).
"The terrain in Qatar is very different," explains Jordi Viladoms, KTM team manager. “Here, the tracks are dusty, sandy and stony. The navigation is also very difficult ... Our riders have no team orders, just that the best wins! "
At Honda, Kevin Benavides is looking to ride calmly and to forget the burns on his body and arms and the injury to his left elbow. "This is the first time I've been riding here," he says, "but I was told it was difficult to navigate and I like it! "
Mohammed Al Balooshi (KTM) who will play the outsider's card again, has decided to take a thoughtful approach to this race: "Last year I crashed heavily on my head here ... I will therefore ride safely. The terrain is fast and things can change very fast, but my goal is to finish and progress in the navigation. "
In the quad class, Rafal Sonik having broken the two engines in his quad Honda in Abu Dhabi, has recovered his Yamaha which he had lent to his compatriot Kamil Wisniewski, second of the ADDC and who as a result of the lack of machine, has had to go home ...
Below is the Qatar Cross Country Rally schedule. Follow us on Facebook @FIMBajasAndRallies
• Tuesday, 18 April
17h: Super Special SS1
• Wednesday, 19 April
2nd Special: Rawdat Rashed
• Thursday, 20 April
3rd Special: Sealine
• Friday, 21 April
4th Special: Abu Thaylah
• Saturday, 22 April
5th Special: Al Zubara