Tuesday | 15 Sep 2015

Al-Attiyah predicts Spain showdown

WRC 2 leader Nasser Al-Attiyah foresees a head-to-head showdown with Esapekka Lappi at Spain’s RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada (21 - 25 October) could decide the outcome of the 2015 title.

The reigning champion extended his points lead with victory in Coates Hire Rally Australia last weekend. Yurii Protasov is 17 points behind and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari is 25 points adrift, but Al-Attiyah sees Lappi as his main challenger, even though he is 27 points off the lead.

“There is one competitor who is really fast – Lappi. He will compete in Corsica and we see after Corsica where we are. I think there will be a big race in Spain,” said the Qatari, who has scored three wins to Lappi’s two.

The Finn is the only driver in the top four to nominate Tour de Corse Rallye de France (1 - 4 October) as a scoring round, and is red-hot favourite to take maximum points there in a Skoda Fabia R5.

Drivers count the best six results from their seven nominated rallies which means the permutations are complex. But a Lappi win on the French asphalt would realistically leave a winner-takes-all fight on the mixed surface roads in Spain.

However, a slip from either Al-Attiyah or Lappi would mean strong results from Protasov or Al-Kuwari in their final two rounds could turn things upside down.

Al-Attiyah acknowledged the importance of holding off Protasov in Australia to take maximum points, aided by a 10 second jump start penalty for the Ukraine driver in the final day.

“We enjoyed this race and had a good feeling after we won last year. We did a good job, we tried to push ourselves to have 25 points because it was very important for the championship,” he said.

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