Al-Attiyah holds off Protasov in WRC 2
Mechanical problems threaten Qatari’s lead
Al-Attiyah led from start to finish in his Ford Fiesta RRC but came under attack from Yurii Protasov in the final leg, only for a jump start penalty to deny the Ukrainian and deal a blow to his title challenge.
Al-Attiyah’s 50.3sec opening day lead was slashed to 14.3sec by Protasov last night after transmission problems and a misfire slowed the Qatari.
Protasov (below) won Sunday’s opening three tests in his Fiesta RRC to reduce the gap to 6.9sec with two stages remaining before a 10sec penalty put victory out of reach. Although he also won the final two stages, Al-Attiyah held on to win by 13.5sec.
“It wasn’t an easy weekend, but this is a big result in the defence of our title. It’s an important 25 points for us,” said Al-Attiyah, who was lucky not to hit a tree after stalling his engine in Sunday’s opening stage.
Victory put Al-Attiyah 17 points clear of Protasov, who moved second in the standings. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, who finished more than two minutes behind in third, moved to third in the championship, eight points behind Protasov and two ahead of the absent Esapekka Lappi.
Nathan Quinn finished fourth, and won the Production Cup class within WRC 2, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. Gianluca Linari was fifth and took the lead in the Production Cup points, with local hero Scott Pedder the only other finisher in sixth.