MONACO // Rashid Al Ketbi and his Skydive Dubai Rally Team teammate Karina Hepperle continued their climb back through the field yesterday after leaving the road for six minutes on the second stage of the Monte Carlo Rally.
Despite treacherous stage conditions in the Ardeche region of southern France, the duo had moved up to fourth overall in the WRC2 category of the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship after 11 special stages yesterday.
They had fallen to the rear of the field after that indiscretion on Wednesday morning, but a resilient Al Ketbi began to press home his challenge, despite the presence of ice and snow on the twisting mountain tarmac stages that make Monte Carlo one of the greatest challenges in world rallying.
"Leaving the road was unfortunate and not the start we wanted," Al Ketbi said. "But we have set some good times since then and really moved back into contention. I caught four cars in front of me and will just keep pushing now to the finish."
Hepperle, a German, is Al Ketbi's co-driver.
Sepp Wiegand led the WRC2 category in his Skoda Fabia S2000 after 11 special stages, the German moving into a lead of more than four minutes over his compatriot Armin Kremer. Yuriy Protosov was third in his Subaru Impreza.
The defending world champion Sebastien Loeb led the main event by one minute, 34 seconds over his former teammate Sebastien Ogier after the tricky special stage between Lamastre, Gilhoc and Alboussier and extended his advantage by a further two seconds through SS11. A further five timed special stages will be staged today before the podium finish at 11am outside the Place du Palais in Monaco on Sunday.
In total, 18 stages offer a total of 465 kilometres of competition.
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