Qatar Cross Country Rally
Wednesday, April 19
Second stage: Losail - Losail
Connection: 55,10 km - Special: 334,08 km - Connection: 93,75 km - Total: 482,93 km
Qatar is a small country that develops faster than the wind and the construction sites grow everywhere like mushrooms ... All this to explain that the road taken by the first riders, two days ago it was closed for works as it was today... So, there was a bit of panic this morning ... The riders did not find the right route, but Erick Nevels - the race director - was with them and found a god solution to put them back on course... Finally, everyone arrived almost in convoy at the start of the Special, but one hour late.
Since the Dakar, Sam Sunderland (KTM) has grown in confidence and is taking win after win. Today, again he struck a blow and won the 2nd Special with 9'25 lead over Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) and 10'48 on Kevin Benavides (Honda). "It's always a bit difficult to focus on navigation after a rally like the one in Abu Dhabi where there are few notes," said Sam Sunderland on arrival at the Losail bivouac. “Here, it is very difficult and complicated but, despite the heat, the bike is whole and me too and that is the main thing. Only the tyres are really destroyed ... "
Under the Honda awning, Paulo Gonçalves shared a smile. "A second place on the second day is a good start to the rally," he says. “There was a lot of stones today and a complex navigation. We must remain calm in these conditions because there are three days left.” His team-mate Kevin Benavides is third, but after the finish of the special, he was the victim of a fuel pump problem, the Argentinian had to be towed by Pela Renet (Husqvarna) to the bivouac ... 93 km ! Congratulations to Pela Renet for his sportsmanship!
Fourth, Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) was still suffering from his knee injury and has dropped back by more than 12 ', followed by his teammate, Pela Renet, 13'. "I rode at my own pace without taking too many risks," explained the Chilean, "because it was difficult today and from 90 km to the finish, I rode alone. "
Antoine Meo (KTM), winner of the Super Special yesterday, chose to start in 15th position but his lack of competition was felt: "I still have difficulty to evaluate the distances, explains the Frenchman. At first, I went too fast and made many mistakes. At kilometre 61, I went off track and I fell behind, so I was distracted ... Then I missed the waypoint, I tried to come back and I dropped even further back... In short, I covered 12 km too much and lost a lot of time, but I still learned today! "
Alexis Hernandez (Yamaha) won the quad class today, he was followed by Rafal Sonik (Yamaha) and Kees Koolen (Barren). "The start of the stage was difficult for me," the Peruvian said, "I was a little disoriented because I do not usually have so many notes. I could not find my way on the track and I had trouble finding a good rhythm. Then, at kilometre 200, when I had passed Rafal Sonik, my road-book was torn apart ... Rafal re-overtook me and I then rode with him. The pace was high and I have to say that it helped me learn a lot. But it was a hard stage, with lots of stones and very hot despite the wind blowing. "