x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Early end to action at Rally Germany after crash kills two drivers

Local police say accident took place at former tank training facility that includes notoriously tricky "Gina" jump, which catapults cars some 40 metres through the air.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in action at Rally Germany.
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in action at Rally Germany.

The last stage of Saturday's second leg of the World Rally Championship's (WRC) Rally Germany event was cancelled after a Dutch driver and co-driver died in a classic-car event organised on the fringes of the German rally near Trier in south-west Germany, police said.

Local police said the accident had taken place at the Arena Panzerplatte, a former tank training facility that includes the notoriously tricky "Gina" jump, which catapults cars some 40 metres through the air.

The accident happened after the WRC cars had already passed through the stage, German rally organisers said.

Stage 14 was cancelled out of respect for the two Dutch drivers, who were not named by authorities.

Trier police said in a statement: "Two Dutch participants died in an accident on Saturday for yet-unknown reasons at the historic demonstration race Classic. Despite immediate rescue efforts the two men died on the spot."

The rally will continue on Sunday with two stages of the event still to be run in the 16-stage itinerary, which now be only 15 stages in length.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will begin the day in 11th place, one place outside of the points scoring positions.

The Emirati found his first tarmac rally event in the WRC in two years to be tough going in his Abu Dhabi Citroen Total DS3.

"I tried to push a bit more in the second half of the leg, but driving on these stages, which combine quick sections and hairpins, does not really come naturally to me," he said.

The final two stages cover a length of 49km and that is all that Mohammed Al Mutawaa needs to complete his debut WRC event.

The Emirati driver, who is driving an Abu Dhabi Citroen DS3 R3 2WD car, will start on Sunday 40th in the overall standings and third in the WRC3 category.

Rashid Al Ketbi, who drives for the Sky Dubai Rally team, is 19th in his Ford Fiesta and seventh in the WRC2 competition.

At the front, Abu Dhabi Citroen's Dani Sordo takes a slender lead of eight-tenths of a second into the final two stages.

He overtook M-Sport's Thierry Neuville on the 13th stage on Saturday, which proved to be the last action of the day, with the fastest stage time.

Sordo has never won in the WRC and is competing in his 105th event this weekend, said of getting to the front: "That was great, really nice," he said.

"The stage was a bit dirty, with lots of gravel, but no problems. I'm very happy."

Sordo's teammate, Mikko Hirvonen, is a distant third, 1 minute, 27.6 seconds adrift, and he acknowledged that he was being cautious in his approach to tackling the event.

"It's muddy and slippery in many places, so I took it carefully while watching what's happening in front," the Finn said.

Martin Prokop is fourth, ahead of Robert Kubica, the former Formula One driver, who is also leading the WRC2 standings.

Jari-Matti Latvala, the Volkswagen driver who led the event after Friday's first leg, saw his victory hopes end with a crash on stage 12.

He said on his Facebook page: "Clipped an obstacle in SS12 and damaged the car, tried to continue but now stopped. No further participation from Sunday. Will be back on the stages tomorrow under Rally 2 regs."

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