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Morocco Desert Challenge 2019

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Adel Abdulla suffers major T2 title setback at Rally of Morocco

Qatar’s Adel Abdulla suffered a major setback to his goal of winning back the FIA T2 World Championship title at the end of the opening desert selective section of the 2018 Rally of Morocco on Friday and the problems spilled into Saturday morning.

 

The Nissan Patrol Y62 driver and his French navigator Jean-Michel Polato opened their account at a cautious pace through the opening stage and slipped to third in the category behind Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Andrey Titov.

They then overcame a minor navigational mistake only to stop with an electrical problem near the finish of the shorter second section of the stage and that prevented them from beginning Saturday’s competitive section on their due start time.

Adel Abdulla said: “We didn’t push on the opening stage. It was really tough. We made one mistake with the navigation. It was an issue with the GPS I think. We were slower in that first stage. I pushed from the start in the second one until the second part of the sandy track.

"Suddenly, it showed that my car was in two-wheel drive and we were stuck in one place, 300 metres before going out of a sandy place. One of the trucks arrived and pulled us out. We continued towards the finish with the two-wheel drive on the sandy road. But, 12km before the finish, the engine went off. I don’t know why. It was something to do with the electrics. It stopped completely. It did not want to start. We changed the fuse and eventually managed to get to the bivouac.

"We found out that the ECU burned on the stage before the finish. That was why the engine went off. We tried to programme the other one because we needed the codes from Nissan to be able to do that. This was a long process and we missed the start of the stage this morning. Hopefully we can start again on Sunday with time penalties."

Titov held a 4min 46sec advantage over Al-Shegawi at the start of the loop stage of 328km through the deserts around Erfoud on Saturday. Time penalties pushed Adel Abdulla down into a distant third place as the team worked on the Nissan’s ECU replacement and Titov began to extend his advantage over Al-Shegawi through the first checkpoints on Saturday.

Adel Abdulla’s challenge for honours comes with the support of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Ooredoo Qatar and Nissan Qatar.

Action in the Rally of Morocco continues with a second loop stage of 289km through the tricky deserts close to Erfoud on Sunday. Adel Abdulla will be hoping for a clean run to keep his T2 challenge on track.

Neil Perkins,


Marie-France Estenave pour MFE-Live.com

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