ADDC 2024: Overdrive Racing's Al-Rajhi and Toyota Gazoo Racing's Quintero finish second and third at punishing Abu Dahbi Desert Challenge

ADDC 2024: Overdrive Racing's Al-Rajhi and Toyota Gazoo Racing's Quintero finish second and third at punishing Abu Dahbi Desert Challenge

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  • Denis Krotov and Lionel Baud reach Abu Dhabi finish in 14th and 28th
  • Lumbar pain for co-driver Winocq forces Chicherit to withdraw
  • Guillaume de Mévius retires with back injury after second stage

Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Seth Quintero finished second and third in the punishing Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and strengthened Toyota Gazoo Racing’s quest to retain the W2RC’s Manufacturers’ Championship.

On a gruelling second round of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, where several of the front-runners - including four of the top-seeded Toyotas - failed to finish, Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk came home 16min 25sec adrift of Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah.

Al-Rajhi said: “We finished. This was a good result. It was not an easy race and we didn’t want to take any risks in this race. There were a lot of problems for a lot of people but we picked up a lot of points. We will now target to push and attack at the next race in Spain and Portugal.”

Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz slipped to third overall on the final morning after being awarded a 15-minute time penalty for missing a route waypoint but they amassed a crucial haul of points towards the W2RC’s Ultimate category. The American won one stage in his Toyota GR DKR Hilux through the towering dunes of the UAE’s Western Region.

Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov overcame their fair share of dramas and a collision in the dunes on day three to finish 14th overall in the second of the Overdrive Racing Hiluxes and young South African Saood Variawa followed up his strong Dakar performance with 10th overall in a TGR Toyota.

The French father and daughter crew of Lionel and Lucie Baud overcame suspension issues and the challenges of tacking some of the most daunting sand dunes on the planet to bring the last of the Overdrive Racing Toyotas home in 28th.

Baud said: “We are happy to be at the end. It was a very good rally, a little bit difficult with a lot of broken dunes. Lucie did a very good job. We are increasing our level and gaining more experience. These are the most important things.”

Day four accounted for fourth-placed Guerlain Chicherit and early pace-setter Juan Cruz Yacopini and their respective co-drivers Alex Winocq and Daniel Oliveras. Chicherit fell into a hole between sand dunes 20km from the finish of the stage and Winocq complained of back pain. The Frenchman drove to the stage finish without his co-driver but was forced to retire.

“We could really not finish,” said Chicherit. “Near the end, we had one jump bigger than the other and, on the landing, Alex pinched something on his back. He was really complaining, so we had to stop and call the helicopters to pick him up. I think it’s an amazing rally and it’s extremely difficult in some parts. Sometimes you get luck, sometimes you get bad luck!”

chicherit 3 3

Yacopini had been involved in a collision with rival Martin Prokop on stage three and was later deemed to have received outside assistance to repair his car in a bid to make it to the stage finish. As per the regulations, the Argentine was disqualified by the Stewards before the start of stage four.

In the absence of Dakar winner Carlos Sainz, Guillaume de Mévius and Xavier Panseri came into the Abu Dhabi event as the pace-setters in the W2RC. They were second quickest on the opening stage but the Belgian suffered a vertebrae compression injury in the middle of his back after a fall into a deep sand hole between dunes on the second stage and was sidelined immediately.

Toyota Gazoo Racing also lost Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleón at the end of the third stage. The duo were running strongly in third overall until the car caught fire within sight of the stage finish. They managed to record a stage time but were forced to evacuate the car before it was destroyed by the blaze. He was able to keep the stage points he had earned on the first two stages.

Moraes said: “The third stage for us was great until it wasn’t! We were going very fast, leading the stage and the race overall, because Nasser had some issues, and got stuck. We were putting the hammer down until 5km from the end. I didn’t see a funnel in the dunes and we lost four or five minutes there. We finished the stage and then, suddenly, the car was on fire. Now we just focus on Portugal and come back stronger..”

Action commenced with a five-kilometre Prologue stage at Al-Dhannah City and De Mévius shadowed winner Al-Attiyah to the stage finish and was four seconds adrift. Moraes came home in fourth and the Overdrive Toyotas of Al-Rajhi, Chicherit, Krotov and Baud were fifth, sixth, 11th and 13th.

The first of five stages through the western region of the Al-Dhafra desert began on Tuesday (February 27th) with a 247.61km loop south of Al-Dhannah City. Al-Attiyah pressed home his advantage to edge into a 3min 08sec advantage over De Mévius with Yacopini in third and Moraes, Krotov, Al-Rajhi and Quintero holding fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth overall.

Yacopini said: “Today we started at the back. It was not the plan but it weas okay to start 30. We make a really good start. The track was well marked because of where we started. It was difficult. You can never trust these dunes. It was nice. It was like pacman..I was overtaking cars side-by-side.”

Gottschalk added: “It was a proper stage, not really nice to drive I must say because a lot of soft sand and dunes and really dangerous with big drops everywhere hidden. We had to monitor all the time the fuel consumption, which was really high wnd we even added some fuel. It was just enough.”

Chicherit enjoyed an excellent performance on the second stage that ran from Al-Dhannah City to the remote Mezaira’a bivouac for 238.80km and the Frenchman carded the quickest time to beat Al-Attiyah by 2min 44sec. Quintero came home in third, Moraes and Yacopini were fourth and fifth and Al-Rajhi rounded off the top six.

The stage result meant that Al-Attiyah had an overall lead of 8min 31sec over Moraes with Yacopini, Quntero, Al-Rajhi and Chicherit holding third to sixth overall. Baud was ninth but problems for Krotov and De Mévius dropped them back to 27th and 35th overall. But the Belgian requested immediate medical attention after his Toyota had dropped into a big hole in the sand dunes after 24km. The resultant checks diagnosed a compressed vertebrae in the middle of his back and the Belgian withdrew immediately but was released from hospital the next day.

Chicherit said: “My day was good. I decided to push because we lost lots of time on the first stage so I had no choice. It went well and we didn’t have any problems. Alex did the perfect navigation.”

After a freak overnight storm, the third stage of 252km looped through the dunes of the Rub Al-Khali to the north-east of the bivouac. Quintero continued Toyota’s excellent form with the quickest time and his first in the Ultimate category: the American beat Al-Rajhi by 1min 37sec with Chicherit coming home in third, 5min 18sec adrift. Krotov was 10th but Yacopini dropped nearly three hours after an early stoppage and then a collision in the dunes with rival Martin Prokop and slipped down to 25th overall. The Argentine had been quickest at the 83km checkpoint.

With leader Al-Attiyah also losing vital minutes after 59km, Quintero moved into a 70-second outright lead from the Qatari. Moraes, Al-Rajhi and Chicherit were third, fourth and fifth overall and Krotov was 18th after a dune collision but disaster had struck Moraes within sight of the stage finish when the car caught fire. The Brazilian managed to record a time but the car was badly damaged and Moraes was sidelined.

The penultimate fourth stage ran for 231.52km and looped through the dunes from a start to the south of Madinat Zayed to finish south-east of the bivouac. Al-Attiyah regained a 9min 21sec cushion over Quintero with the fastest time on a stage where Al-Rajhi came home in second place and Quintero and Krotov were fourth and 12th. Baud suffered a suspension breakage and lost more time.

It was a disappointing day for Overdrive Racing with Yacopini disqualified for received outside assistance to repair his Hilux after his third-stage accident and Chicherit retiring from the event following a crash in the dunes 20km from the finish which left his co-driver Alex Winocq with back pain. The consolation was second and third in the overall rankings for Quintero and Al-Rajhi and 15th overall for Krotov.

The final stage ran for 205.84km and took crews back to Abu Dhabi. A penalty for missing a route waypoint proved expensive for Quintero and he slipped behind Al-Rajhi into third place.

Action in the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship resumes with the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in Portugal and Spain on April 2nd-7th

2024 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – result:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Edouard Boulanger (FRA) Prodrive Hunter 16hr 20min 09sec
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 16hr 36min 34sec
3. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (DEU) Toyota GR DKR Hilux 16hr 47min 55sec
4. Austin Jones (USA)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 17hr 10min 50sec
5. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 17hr 15min 28sec
6. Marcos Baumgart (BRA)/Kleber Cincea (BRA) Prodrive Hunter 17hr 34min 39sec
7. Mansour Al-Helai (ARE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (ARE) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR 17hr 42min 37sec*
8. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR 17hr 45min 19sec
9. Pau Navarro (ESP)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus 17hr 47min 11sec
10. Saood Variawa (ZAF)/François Cazalet (FRA) Toyota GR DKR Hilux 17hr 49min 58sec
14. Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (ISR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 18hr 47min 17sec
28. Lionel Baud (FRA)/Lucie Baud (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 40hr 00min 54sec
Guerlain Chicherit (FRA)/Alex Winocq (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive RETIRED – SS4
Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive DSQ – SS3
Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Armand Monleón (ESP) Toyota GR DKR Hilux RETIRED – SS3
Guillaume de Mevius (BEL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive RETIRED – SS2

  • denotes NOT registered for W2RC


Source: Overdrive Racing

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