Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and co-driver Alba Sánchez González celebrate after winning Rally Oman.
Muscat: Qatari Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Spanish co-driver Alba Sánchez González managed their pace to perfection to seal an emphatic victory at the Oman Rally Sohar International yesterday.
Thanks to hard work on Friday’s gravel stages, Al Attiyah avoided risk in the half-dozen closing speed tests to secure a seventh victory in Oman by a margin of 15 minutes 13.8 seconds. in his Volkswagen Polo GTI Autotek. It was the Qatari’s 79th career MERC victory and gave him the perfect foundation on which to build a challenge for an 18th regional title.
Sánchez González, who replaced Mathieu Baumel as Al Attiyah’s co-driver, became the first woman to win a MERC round since Veronika Havelková linked Vojtech Štajf to a one-off win in Qatar in 2018. Sweden’s Tina Thörner had a was the first woman to win a MERC round alongside Al Attiyah in Qatar in 2009.
“It was important that we got off to a winning start here in Oman and I’m very happy with this result,” said Al Attiyah.
“I was able to manage my pace today, avoid punctures and take no risks. Today was all about preserving the car and protecting the lead.
The fit man of the final day was a reborn Hamed Al Wahaibi, the Omani veteran who recovered from turbo issues at the start of day one to win five stages yesterday. This allowed Al Wahaibi and Kiwi co-driver Tony Sircombe to finish sixth in their Motortune Škoda Fabia.
Czech Petr Kačirek and co-driver Václav Kopáček were Al Attiyah’s closest rivals in their Škoda Fabia Duck Racing. Competing in his first MERC rally, the Czech reached the finish in Nakhal 2min 58.3sec ahead of Qatari crew Nasser Khalifa Al Atya and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini.
Zakariya and Mohammed Al Aamri of Oman led the MERC2 class in a Subaru Impreza until mechanical issues forced them out of fourth place overall on the penultimate stage. Jordanians Issa Abu Jamous and Emad Juma duly moved up to fourth to win MERC2 and Ihab Al Shorafa and Yousef Juma took fifth and second in the category.
Al Attiyah loosened his pace noticeably to save the car and maintain his large overnight lead at the start of the final day. But Al Wahaibi and Abdullah Al Rawahi were both on a mission to make amends for their disappointing retirements on Friday.
The pair were fastest and second fastest in each of the three stages of the morning loop, but were too far behind after time penalties to catch sixth-placed Ihab Al Shorafa.
Al Attiyah made it to the assist point well between the two stage loops with an 11min 15.5sec lead over Kačirek, although the Czech tightened his grip on second place 2min 33.9sec behind Al Atya. Jarah Al Touqi of Oman did not start the second leg.
Al Wahaibi went on to win two of the three afternoon stages to secure sixth place, as Al Attiyah cruised to the finish line with a best time on the final stage to confirm a seventh victory in the Sultanate and a first for his replacement. -driver.
Haitham Al Soomar (Mitsubishi) won the Oman Rally Championship category ahead of Lebanese driver Alain Nawfal (T3 Yamaha). Musab Al Soomar came home in third place in a Kia, despite a crash that cost him more than 20 minutes on the final stage.
Omani Haitham Al Hadidi abandoned his Mitsubishi early in the day.
The 2022 FIA Middle East Rally Championship will now travel to Qatar from February 10-12.
Rally of Oman Sohar International 2022: FINAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (QAT)/Alba Sánchez González (ESP) Volkswagen Polo GTI
2. Petr Kacirek (CZE)/Václav Kopácek (CZE)Škoda Fabia 2h40min 31.0sec
3. Nasser Khalifa Al Atya (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta 2h43min 29.3sec
4. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3 h 05 min 39.1 s
5. Ihab Al Shorafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3 h 09 min 21.8 s
6. Hamed Al Wahaibi (OMN)/Tony Sircombe (NZL) Skoda Fabia 3h 13min 49.6sec
7. Abdullah Al Rawahi (OMN) / Ata Al Hmoud (JOR) Skoda Fabia 3 h 14 min 50.3 s