Return of the champion
Support category champion Al-Attiyah makes season debut
The Ukraine driver, who tussled with Al-Attiyah last year, returned to WRC 2 after tackling the opening two rounds of the season in World Rally Cars to head the Qatari by 14.5sec. Both are driving Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Cars.
The two frontrunners dominated the fastest times, with Protasov taking six stage wins and Al-Attiyah two. Notional times were awarded for two stages which were not completed following delays caused by Ott Tänak’s accident.
“It was a very strong day. We had a good battle with Nasser and have pushed hard all day,” said Protasov.
Both Nicolas Fuchs and Jari Ketomaa were in contact with the leading pair during the truncated morning but slipped back this afternoon. Fuchs ended 2min 43.5sec behind Al-Attiyah, with Ketomaa a further 52.7sec adrift.
Ketomaa, who won the previous round in Sweden, suffered from daylong brake problems in his Fiesta R5.
Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari was fifth, almost a minute down on Ketomaa, with Simone Tempestini completing the top six and heading the Production Cup within WRC 2 despite driveshaft problems in his Subaru Impreza.
Stéphane Lefebvre was inside the top six until a rear wheel parted company with his DS 3 R5. It took 11 minutes to fit the spare and continue and the Frenchman, winner of the opening round in Monte-Carlo, was ninth.