posted on 07/10/2012: 577 views
Dubai's Fazza Rally Team driver Khalifa Al Mutaiwei won the Pharaons International Cross-Country Rally and in the process secured the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies title with the last round to spare in Portugal, which is now of mere academic interest.
Al Mutaiwei finished the gruelling six-day, 2,000km rally last evening in a total time of 23 hours 30 minutes 47 seconds, a good 1hr 37min 03sec ahead of second placed Regis Delahaye of France and Miroslav Zapletal of the Czech Republic, who completed the podium in a time of 25hr 29min 37sec.
"I drove like a 75-year-old man on the stage today,” said Al Mutaiwei at the finish in Cairo. "I counted every stone just to make sure I made it safely to the finish. I am so happy. I cannot find the words to express my feelings right now.
"I want to thank His Royal Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, for his full support and backing. Without this my return would never have happened. I would also like to thank Andy my co-driver, the X-raid team, and all the members of my team and friends for their support.”
Al Mutaiwei first won the title in 2004 after which he quit the sport, only to be brought out of retirement by Fazza this year to have another shot at the title. The Fazza driver is only the second Arab driver in history to win the gruelling Pharaons Rally – his good friend Saeed Al Hajri of Qatar won the event in a Porsche 959 in 1985.
Al Mutaiwei is now the first Arab driver to win a major international, non-regional, championship on two occasions. His navigator Andreas Schulz is the first co-driver to win the title for the third successive occasion.
Al Mutaiwei began the final stage from fifth position on the road behind Zapletal, Aidyn Rakhinmbayev, Patrick Sireyjol and Jun Mitsuhashi after he dropped several minutes helping the stranded Sireyjol out of a sand hole on Friday.
It was vital that the Fazza driver stayed out of trouble on the 425km special stage between Tibniya and Cairo, which was later shortened by race officials. Al Mutaiwei duly held on to secure the fourth fastest time and the title.
The final round will be held in Portugal from November 1. – Sport 360°
|19 June 2013||Al Ketbi relishes delivery of new R5|
|19 June 2013||UAE to host selection event for FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy programme|
|17 June 2013||Abu Dhabi revs up for major British Grand Prix Ticket Drive|
|16 June 2013||UAE’s Al Qubaisi to race in 24 Hours of Le Mans|
|16 June 2013||Formula One testing at Dubai Autodrome?|