x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Novitskiy extends overall lead

The Team X-Raid's Russian weathers the conditions in desert to stay ahead of Rosso in the cars category.

James West of Britain struggled his way to finish in fourth overall on his KTM 690 in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
James West of Britain struggled his way to finish in fourth overall on his KTM 690 in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Team X-Raid's Leonid Novitskiy put in another dominant display to extended his overall lead in the Cars category of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge yesterday. The Russian now has a lead of 45 mins 01 secs over Laurent Rosso after the second leg of the event had been completed last night. The 305km stage threw in another bout of hot, heavy weather and mixed fortunes in what is the opening round of the season-opening round of the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Novitskiy, who is out to retain the title for Team X-Raid, continued to move further ahead as all his rivals toiled in the heat. With Novitskiy flying through the various passage controls, Mark Powell, Rosso, Abdulla Al Heiraz and Abdulbari Bin Sougat began swapping places in a contest that matched the rising temperatures around the Tal Moreeb area. Just after the first service stage, Al Heiraz experienced a gearbox problem that pulled him from the day's action.

The UAE's Yahya Al Helei and his co-driver protégé and son, Mansour, climbed several places in a late surge but missed the service area and continued back to the Bivouac by road. Meanwhile, the Moto category remains unchanged with Marc Coma and Francesco Lopez at the top of the times and looking likely to continue their duel for the overall honours right down until the event climaxes on Thursday with the final stage.

Spain's Coma retained the lead on his factory KTM 690 R. The South African, Sean Gaugain, who finished seventh on the first day, stormed through the first three stages to finish the day third overall on his Honda CRF 450X. Gaugain's rival, the Briton James West, had a disappointing day on his KTM 690 to end the day in fourth overall, despite regular over-heating issues throughout the day. The Open Class category saw Coma remain top of the table with West falling further behind on time but holding on to second place.

The KTM UAE ADCB Racing Team owner, Tim Trenker, sits in third place. In the Quad category, Sebastian Husseini and Obaid Echtibi rode their machines to the limit making for a fine contest between Suzuki and Honda. The biggest rise of the day saw Poland's Sonik Rafal move up 21 places from his overnight finish to pose a serious challenge for third place. The Emirati, Mohammed Al Shamsi, spent a second disappointing day struggling with technical issues. Today's third leg starts and finishes in Moreeb. @Email:sports@thenational.ae