FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 4 (April 17-22, 2017)
LOSAIL (QATAR): South Racing’s duo of Germany driver Jürgen Schröder and Spain’s Fernando Alvarez had never taken part in an event in Qatar before, but the duo survived buffeting winds, intense heat and some of the world’s most difficult cross-country navigation to bring their cars to the finish at Losail in eighth and 12th positions.
Schröder and his son Maximilian followed up their impressive finish at the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with another professional performance in their Nissan Navara. They were regularly inside the top 10 over rocky terrain and across sand dunes and winding tracks and were delighted with their result.
Alvarez and his Argentinean navigator Luciano Gennoni lost time on the second day in their Toyota Hilux, but bounced back strongly with two good stage performances to finish just outside a top 10 that featured some of the world’s leading off-road drivers.
“It was another great all-round team performance and a good stage performance by Jürgen to finish the rally,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “It was a strong finish by Fernando on what we all know is a difficult result for navigation. As the race went on, they began to understand the terrain a bit more and made it a little easier for them. But the tricky navigation on days four and five hit home how tough it was.
“A big thanks to all the team for their non-stop efforts over the past month. We have one more race to finish this month, which is the Moroccan Desert Challenge that finishes tomorrow, before we switch our attentions to the month of May....”
The two South Racing cars began strongly and were classified in 11th and 12th positions through the opening 4.85km super special stage that featured several jumps and water splashes and took in part of Qatar’s motocross track at Losail. It meant that the duo began the opening desert section of 334.08km from Rawdat Rashed to Sealine in similar positions on the road.
Navigational issues played havoc with many entrants on the opening desert stage, but Schröder came through in 11th position and Alvarez lost time and slipped to 21st. A desert wind that had plagued competitors through the opening day strengthened from the north on day two and hampered visibility in the early dunes and out on the fast piste.
Alvarez was in excellent form, however, and the ninth quickest time enabled the Spaniard to climb back to 14th overall. Schröder was 12th quickest in the second Toyota and held an excellent ninth overall on his first trip to Qatar.
The penultimate stage of 337.76km ran from a start off the Dukhan Highway to a finish at the Al-Shamal stadium in the very north of Qatar. The wind turned from a north-westerly direction and the gusts strengthened, but it failed to stop Schröder and Alvarez from recording the seventh and 12th quickest times, despite the difficult navigation.
That meant that they started the final 343.61km selective section between Al-Zubara and Sealine in ninth and 12th overall. The German ran a good stage and benefited from navigational delays for rival Aron Domzala to seal eighth position. Alvarez consolidated 12th.
2017 Qatar Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS5:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive13hr 48min 09sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 55min 11sec
3. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux 13hr 55min 39sec
4. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Peugeot 3008 DKR 14hr 02min 41sec
5. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 14hr 02min 53sec
6. Erik Van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 15hr 00min 49sec
7. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 15hr 49min 39sec
8. Jürgen Schröder (DEU)/Maximilian Schöder (DEU) Nissan Navara 16hr 04min 07sec
9. Aron Domzala (POL)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 16hr 11min 18sec
10. Mohammed Al-Mannai (QAT)/Kamal Khoder (QAT) Chevrolet Buggy 17hr 22min 06ec
11. Yasir Saiedan (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Land Cruiser T2 17hr 37min 00sec
12. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Luciano Gennoni (ARG) South Racing Toyota Hilux 17hr 47min 11sec