KARELIA (RUSSIA): Qatar’s Adel Abdulla recovered well from his stage delay on Saturday to confirm third position in the T2 category at the finish of Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally on Sunday afternoon.
The 2016 FIA T2 champion had been fighting with Russian driver Alexey Titov until he hit a snow bank on Saturday, but he and fellow Qatari Nasser Al-Kuwari put that firmly to the back of their minds over the remaining two selective sections.
They had been running ahead of Portuguese driver Bruno Oliveira at the end of day one, but race officials handed their rival vital time back that he had lost on a blocked stage on Saturday and there were not enough competitive kilometres over the last two stages for Adel to catch his rival and regain second place.
Running a Toyota Land Cruiser VDJ 200 with support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and the Qatar Government, Adel carded a time of 1hr 46min 25sec through the tricky fourth selective and that enabled him to beat Oliveira by 4min 04sec, as Titov extended his outright lead with the fastest time.
Adel repeated the feat in the shorter final stage to earn the second fastest time in T2 behind Titov and confirm a useful haul of T2 championship points.
“We actually finished third in the race,” said Adel Abdulla. “Yesterday, we asked about the stage time the race officials had posted for Oliveira and that was corrected. He got stuck when someone in front blocked the road. But, we checked again this morning and he was in front of us again by 17 minutes. That time difference with 220km is not possible in Russia with the difficult terrain and the difficulty of the stage surfaces.
“But, we took some risks and pushed hard today. We took around four minutes from him on the first one. Even on the last stage we took six minutes and that moved us right up behind him at the end.
“I would like to thank the QMMF for their support. This is a small gift for our Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and a good result for us to get 15 points here in Russia at the beginning of the season. Nasser, my co-driver, also did a very good job on his first time in snow. The car was new for me and I was happy with the team. They did a good job with the car. I hope to do even better in the next races.”