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Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi finishes fourth overall
Przygonski, Ten Brinke, Van Loon and Chabot in fifth, seventh, ninth and 11th



Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah Carlos Sainz and navigator Matthieu Baumel looked set to celebrate securing both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas driver and co-driver titles at Hail Baja 2 on Wednesday.

But a rival team made a protest against potential speeding infringements onday one and the outcome of the event went to the FIA Stewards. A time penalty of two minutes was handed to Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz was handed a one-minute penalty. Having originally secured the provisional win by the margin of 54 seconds, Al-Attiyah suffered the ignominy of losing out on the world title and the Hail Baja 2 win by just six seconds.

Trailing overnight leader Carlos Sainz by 2min 20sec at the restart, the Toyoya Gazoo Racing crew guided their Hilux to the stage win after their Spanish rival lost vital seconds at a late waypoint. The Qatari duly confirmed a winning margin of 54 seconds that was sufficient to secure the title – a first Baja Championship success for the triple Dakar winner since 2008.

Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz led during the early part of the opening stage until they collected a puncture and were fourth at the night halt. They reached the finish in fourth place in their Overdrive Racing Toyota.

Al-Rajhi said: “We do it well. We try our best to try and catch (Stéphane) Peterhansel. But he is a fast driver. He has a lot of experience. When I see the mark in the road, every car in the front, cutting, was flying. After that I thought, okay, everybody push and then we stay safe to make no mistake. It was good training for Dakar. We still need to improve ourselves.”

Punctures blighted the progress of Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul on stage one and they were classified in seventh at the start of the final morning. A minor time loss on the stage cost the Dutchman and he claimed third in the title race behind Vladimir Vasilyev and Al-Attiyah. Colsoul had the consolation of finishing unofficially tied with Baumel in the Co-drivers’ Championship.

Polish driver Jakub Przygonski and Germany’s Timo Gottschalk began the final day in sixth place and climbed a position to fifth at the end of the event.

Dutchman Erik Van Loon and French co-driver Sébastien Delaunay were ninth in their Overdrive Racing car and the French crew of Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot joined the team for the second of the Bajas and finished 11th.

Overdrive Racing’s team director Jean-Marc Fortin said: “In this difficult time it has been a superb few months for us. I thank my people for doing a fantastic job to escape what is happening in the world. I am happy with the speed we showed in the two races. We are happy with what we have shown here. Nasser is the fastest driver at the moment. It is a pleasure to have him in the team. All our others drivers did a good job. Yazeed and Kuba drove well and it’s a shame that Bernhard lost a little time.”

A puncture and a wheel coming off the rim cost Al-Attiyah a potential win on the opening selective section of 311.57km that looped through the deserts around Baqqa, to the north-west of Hail, on Tuesday. The Qatari reached the finish 2min 20sec adrift of rival Carlos Sainz, but still in a strong position to challenge for the FIA Baja title from second on the road on the final day.

“Today was a good run but we had two flat tyres (one wheel off rim) and we stopped and we changed,” said Al-Attiyah. “We lose more than four minutes. After that, we came to the finish and we are only 2min 20sec to Carlos. It is okay. We tested the new tyres for Dakar. We need to have more experience of these tyres.”

Al-Rajhi had been the fastest of all the drivers to the 97km point, but a puncture also cost the Saudi time and he finished the day in fourth behind Peterhansel.

The Saudi said: “Today, after 97km, we were leading. After, I catch Peterhansel, I see him and I have a flat tyre. I fix it and go and we push and we touch third position again. Then I have second puncture before the finish, around 80km. After, I was scared because I did not have more spare tyre. But the speed is there. This, the first time I drive this new car. Now I have a good feeling for Dakar and that is important. Tomorrow I will push a little bit to try and get third position.”

A late flat tyre for Ten Brinke cost the Dutchman a potential fifth place and he slipped to seventh behind Vasilyev and sixth-placed Przygonski in the Orlen Team Toyota.

Ten Brinke said: “We had a puncture after 40km and lost one and a half minutes. Then Nasser passed us. It was quite impressive that he passed us already after 45km. We followed Nasser until the neutralisation. He did a good job to be first car and we followed him. We are both fighting for our own titles. It is a free fight. The second part, we were together, Nasser. Vasilyev and me and we were pushing. 50km from the finish, I got a puncture again on a fast right-hander. The tyre was off the rim and we needed to change it.”

Van Loon and Chabot completed the Toyota sextet in 10th and 12th overall after another successful day in the desert for Overdrive Racing.

The drama unfolded on the second day with Al-Attiyah snatching the win and the two Baja titles and Al-Rajhi coming home in fourth after trying to pressurise Peterhansel for the podium.

Attention now turns to the forthcoming Dakar Rally and Toyota’s bid for a second success in three years.

2020 Baja Hail 2 – final results
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) MINI JCW Buggy     4hr 51min 24sec
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux   4hr 51min 30sec
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Edouard Boulanger (FRA) MINI JCW Buggy  4hr 52min 40sec
4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Ditk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive  4hr 55min 40sec
5. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4hr 59min 13sec
6. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Dmitro Tsyro (UKR) MINI JCW Rally  5hr 00min 41sec
7. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive   5hr 03min 35sec
8. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) SRT CR6 Buggy  5hr 05min 06sec
9. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive  5hr 17min 17sec
10. Denis Krotov (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing  5hr 24min 36sec
11. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive  5hr 31min 02sec

Source Overdrive Racing

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