x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Arch falls short as gap swells

The defending champion Hannes "Flying Falcon" Arch put up a valiant show to the last nail-biting finish but could not stop Paul Bonhomme from increasing the gap at the top.

PORTO // The defending champion Hannes "Flying Falcon" Arch put up a valiant show to the last nail-biting finish but could not stop Paul Bonhomme from increasing the gap at the top. Arch, the Team Abu Dhabi pilot, posted his best time of 1:09.57 to finish second and scored 10 points, two less than Bonhomme, in the fourth round of the series. Bonhomme won by 0.94 seconds and now has 55 points, four more than Arch, but both agreed the race was not over yet as the pack heads for Barcelona for the final round next month.

"Is it settled? Most definitely not," said Bonhomme. "I have been in this situation before and I am blazing for Barcelona." Arch promised to make it difficult for the leader. "I nearly gave up after the qualifying round but that is not me. That does not fit me at all. I will go with the same mindset to Barcelona and give Bonhomme a hard time." The German rookie Matthias Dolderer threatened to usurp the title from the top two guys initially but he received two penalties, adding four seconds to his time, for incorrect gate entries. However, Matt Hall from Australia, also competing in his rookie year, managed to secure the third position, his best for the season.

Kirby Chambliss, from the United States, found himself out of the finals, due to technical difficulties with his engine, even though he posted the fastest speed all round at 1:08.88. This was the second time he bowed out, after facing similar difficulties with his engine leaking fuel on Saturday during the first of the two qualifying rounds. Arch initially lagged behind Paul Bonhomme, his arch rival - who is yet to win a championship - by two points on Saturday after suffering a six-second penalty for hitting a pylon.

In fact, Arch barely made the top ten qualifiers by taking the ninth place. @Email:sbhattacharya@thenational.ae