16 September 2013
Rally Australia: Al-Kuwari demotes Kubica, re-takes WRC2 lead
Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari: This is a great feeling because it was not an easy rally to finish or win.
Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari has re-taken the lead from Robert Kubica in the battle for the WRC2 title after winning Rally Australia last weekend.
The Seashore Qatar Rally Team man ran third in his Ford Fiesta RRC early on, moving up when Yazeed Al-Rajhi and then Yuriy Protasov hit trouble - the former in SS8, when he retired from the leg after damaging the steering and the latter in SS12 on Saturday morning, when he spun. Al-Kuwari eventually finished more than minute up on Protasov, while Al-Rajhi was third, over 5.5 minutes further back.
The result increases Al-Kuwari's points total to 118, 17 more than Kubica, who was not in action Down Under, as it was not one of his seven nominated events (although only the best six results count).
“This is a great feeling because it was not an easy rally to finish or win,” said Al-Kuwari, who also finished tenth overall to score one 'senior' WRC point. “The drivers here have been very fast and I was not pushing to the max – especially on Friday, this was like a brain day where we have to use our heads. We were very cautious and looking to finish.
“On Saturday and Sunday we pushed hard and won the rally. This was our third win and sixth podium. Now we will be watching France on the laptop [as it is not one of the events on my schedule] to see what Robert Kubica is doing. But we have to celebrate now.”
Asked if he had any dramas, he added: “There were some stages where we have some small moments, but nothing too big. We were driving very safe because we are coming to the event for the first time. We could trust the notes, but we had no big moments. I am happy to be on the safe side and to win the rally.
“Before the rally I said a top five result in the WRC 2 would mean that I would lead [the Championship], but that was not enough [really].
“This [the win] was what we needed, but it was unexpected, especially when Yazeed and other fast drivers were here with big experience of maybe seven or eight years. This is our first year. I am very happy.”
Pressed on if he imagined he might be able to fight for the title this season, Al-Kuwari stated it definitely wasn't something he considered: “No, not at all,” he confirmed. “Talking to my sponsor SeaShore and M-Sport and Mr Malcolm [Wilson] we say, if we can be in the top five with a lot of big names then that is good for us in the first year. We were not expecting to be leading – I hope we stay [in this position] until [Wales Rally] GB [my final WRC2 event of the season].
“I'm really enjoying the WRC. Before my experience is only in the Middle East and really there is nothing to learn in the desert. Every [WRC] rally I am learning more and more here. When I compare the times to Mexico, it is good. In Mexico, my time was five or six seconds to the WRC drivers and today I am only two seconds and that's a big improvement for me in only five rallies.”
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