• Dakar 2014


    5 a 18 de Janeiro de 2014
  • 16ª Edição das 24 Horas de Fronteira


    30 de Novembro e 1 de Dezembro de 2013
  • 27ª Baja Portalegre 500


    1 e 2 de Novembro de 2013
  • Baja TT Proença-Oleiros


    7 e 8 de Setembro de 2013
  • Rali TT Serras do Norte


    1 e 2 de Junho de 2013

segunda-feira, 21 de Abril de 2014

Alexandre Franco repete aposta no Nacional de Todo o Terreno

A Scuderia Goldenstrans/DURA Automotive Systems vai repetir esta temporada a presença no Campeonato Nacional de Todo o Terreno, depois de ter conquistando o Vice-Campeonato de T2 na temporada passada.

 A dupla formada pelos irmãos Alexandre e Rui Franco volta a apostar na fiabilidade da Nissan Navara T2, que na temporada passada contou com a preparação e assistência da Prolama, com a mesma estrutura este ano volta a ‘tomar conta’ da viatura da dupla alenquerense.

Na antevisão á primeira prova da temporada, o Ervideira Rali TT, Alexandre Franco começou por dizer, que “após uma longa paragem de cinco meses, estamos bastante ansiosos por regressar á competição, ainda para mais quando sabemos de antemão que este ano o campeonato vai ser bastante competitivo”.

 O piloto de Alenquer diz estar “bastante motivado, embora o nosso carro tenha ficado pronto apenas agora e não nos tenha dado oportunidade para testar, o que acontecerá apenas esta semana. Estou curioso para ver como tudo ficou, pois fizemos um carro praticamente novo, de forma a que a fiabilidade continue a ser uma grande arma para esta temporada”.

 Depois de terem conquistado o Vice-Campeonato na Categoria T2 na temporada passada, a dupla que conta com os apoios da Goldentrans, DURA Automotive Systems e ENI diz que “neste nosso segundo ano no campeonato queremos impor um ritmo forte desde o início, pois a concorrência que foi anunciada é muito forte e não podemos facilitar. Será a meu ver bastante importante sair de Reguengos com um bom resultado. Sinto-me bem preparado e não menosprezando a nossa concorrência, acredito que temos hipótese de repetir o feito do ano passado”, finalizou Alexandre Franco.

 O Campeonato Nacional de Todo o Terreno arranca já na próxima sexta-feira dia 25 de Abril em Reguengos, dia em que se realiza a dupla passagem pela Super Especial de abertura do Ervideira Rali TT, para no sábado dia 26 se realizarem duas passagens por um sector selectivo de cerca de cento e cinquenta quilómetros.

A-Attiyah, Barreda e Sonik começam na frente

· Navigational mistake costs Sunderland over 16 minutes before PC 

· Poland’s Dabrowski rolls his Toyota; heat and navigation take toll 

· Daunting 396.46km loop stage planned for Tuesday morning

 Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Spaniard Joan Barreda and Poland’s Rafal Sonik were the early leaders of their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories after the short opening 164.18km selective section of the 2014 Sealine Cross-Country Rally in the Qatar deserts on Monday.

 Al-Attiyah was the class of the car field in his Mini All4 Racing. The 2012 winner began the day from fourth on the road and survived having to change a flat tyre after the second passage control to set a winning time of 1hr 34min 57sec. The Qatari and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel take a lead of 2min 44sec over Mini team-mates Krzysztof Holowczyc and Andreas Schulz into the second stage on Tuesday.

  “It was going well, no problems and then we had a flat tyre and had to stop and change it,” said Al-Attiyah. “It was only a short stage but the navigation was very tricky. Matthieu did a great job.”

Spanish rider Joan Barreda stormed through the field from ninth to seal a stunning opening stage win for Honda. The CRF 450 rider completed the stage 1min 02sec quicker than defending champion Marc Coma (KTM), with Jordi Viladoms reaching the flying finish in third place.

  “It was a good stage for me, very happy,” said Barreda. “I rode fast from the start and tried to push and then I slowed down a little in the dunes at the end. I did not want to make a mistake there. We have a good strategy for this race.” 

Coma was upbeat in second position. “This is just the first day. We came from Abu Dhabi, where the terrain is quite different and there is more navigation here. We will see tomorrow.”

 Emirati rider Mohammed Al-Balooshi was an impressive fourth. “At the moment my navigational skills cannot match my pace. I need to practice my navigation. I rode with the master (Coma) for a while. I really enjoyed that. Today was a great experience for me.” 

Poland’s Rafal Sonik held ninth overall and was the quickest of the three quad riders on his Honda. Mohammed Abu Issa was a close second and a mere three seconds in front of Adel Hussein, who lost time after problems with his road book scroll.

  “After the last tarmac road, the scroll broke on my road book and I kept having to stop and turn it manually,” said Qatar’s Adel Hussein.

 Abu Issa said: “It was a short stage, but very tough. Tomorrow will be cooler at the start, but the last 150km will be boiling and that’s when you get dizzy and need to concentrate. It was harder than I imagined today. I need new knuckles!” 

Red Bull KTM factory team rider Sam Sunderland lost his way before the first passage control and dropped over 16 minutes to the leaders trying to regain the correct track. He finished the day in a disappointing seventh position after a late charge through the stage.

  SS1 – as it happened

 Twenty-two cars, three quads and 15 motorcycles were joined by four cars running in a national event at the rear of the field for the start of the opening 164.18km selective section, near Umm Al-Mawaga, to the west of Doha.

 Very hot conditions greeted the riders to the start of the opening section, where passage controls were positioned at the 28.82km and 97.80km points en route to a finish near Sealine to the south of the capital. The varied stage offered tricky navigation and a series of sand dunes and dry lake crossings near the finish. 

Portugal’s Ruben Faria was left with the unenviable task of opening the road, with Coma and Goncalves slotting into 10th and 11th positions. The Portuguese reached the first checkpoint in 21min 48sec, but KTM team-mate Sam Sunderland suffered navigational difficulties, was forced to retrace his tracks and dropped over 16 minutes.

Barreda opened up a 1min 02sec advantage over Coma heading towards PC2. Sonik was the fastest of the quads and slotted into eighth overall behind Faria, with Adel Hussein close behind.

 Barreda was on a charge and the Honda rider, who started the day from ninth on the road, reached PC2 second behind Faria to extend his virtual stage lead over Coma to 2min 34sec.

 FIA World Cup leader Vladimir Vasilyev led the cars into action but Al-Attiyah stormed through from fourth on the road and reached PC1 1min 02sec quicker than Holowczyc. Reinaldo Varela was third in the first of the four Toyotas.

 The bikes were now reaching the stage finish and was first to the end to win the stage with a time of 1hr 42min 31sec. Coma finished second, 1min 02sec behind, and Jordi Viladoms was third. Faria lost his way after 195km and slipped down the leader board to eighth.

 Al-Attiyah extended his virtual stage lead to 3min 02sec at the second passage control over Holowczyz and there was a frantic tussle for third between Marek Dabrowski, Varela and Vladimir Vasilyev.

 The Qatari held on to seal the stage win by a margin of 2min 44sec, despite a flat tyre. Holowczyc was second and Vasilyev pipped Yazeed Al-Rajhi to third after Dabrowski rolled and lost time near the finish, slipping from third to eighth overall.

 Tomorrow (Tuesday), competitors tackle a 396.46km loop stage through the Qatar desert, with the bikes leading the way in what promises to be a cooler and even more demanding challenge, starting at the earlier time of 07.00hrs. The event finishes at Sealine on Friday afternoon.

Cars1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA)            Mini All4 Racing   1hr 34min 57sec2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Andreas Schulz (GER) Mini All4 Racing            1hr 37min 41sec3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing            1hr 44min 21sec4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (GER)            Toyota Hilux                 1hr 46min 31sec5. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux                               1hr 46min 41sec6. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) Hummer H3 Evo             1hr 57min 28sec7. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Arslan Sakhimov (KAZ) Hummer                                    1hr 54min 26secunne   8. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Toyota Hilux                   2hr 00min 50sec9. Martin Kaczmarski (POL)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) Mini All4 Racing            2hr 05min 43sec Bikes1. Joan Barreda (ESP) Honda CRF 450                                                            1hr 42min 31sec2. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450                                                               1hr 43min 33sec3. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450                                                            1hr 47min 43sec4. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450                                      1hr 49min 34sec5. Helder Rodrigues (PRT) Honda CRF 450                                      1hr 51min 55sec6. Paolo Goncalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450                                      1hr 54min 01sec7. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450                                                  1hr 59min 34sec8. Ruben Faria (PRT) KTM 450                                                              2hr 01min 43sec Quads
9. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700                                                            2hr 13min 48sec10. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)            Honda TRX 680                                                2hr 15min 50sec11. Adel Hussein (QAT)   Yamaha Raptor 700                                            2hr 15min 53sec

Vinhos Ervideira Rali TT sensibiliza futuros condutores

No dia que antecede o início do Vinhos Ervideira Rali TT, competição pontuável para os Campeonatos Nacionais de Todo-o-Terreno, terá lugar uma ação de sensibilização e prevenção rodoviária promovida pela Ervideira.

 Esta iniciativa, que contará com a colaboração das Estradas de Portugal, da GNR (Escola Segura) e da Junta de Freguesia de S. Vicente do Pigeiro, terá lugar numa pista, simples e plana, que os alunos da Escola Primária da Vendinha vão percorrer aos comandos de veículos a pedal, tendo assim um contacto simples com sinais de trânsito e as regras básicas de condução.

 A ação inicia-se pelas 10 horas, na Praça 1º de Maio, na Vendinha, entre Évora e Reguengos de Monsaraz.

 Esta é mais uma forma da Ervideira assinalar o início da 26ª edição do Rali TT, prova organizada pela Secção de Motorismo da Sociedade Artística Reguenguense, que este ano decorre nos dias 25 e 26 de Abril.

domingo, 20 de Abril de 2014

Team HRC defende liderança do Campeonato do Mundo no Qatar

The Sealine Cross Country Rally is the second race of the FIM World Cross-Country Rallies Championship, as Team HRC and its three official riders ready themselves to defend the lead of reigning world champion Paulo Gonçalves. The action gets underway once again on Monday.

 Once the administrative and technical checks are passed and out of the way, it’ll be down to business for the three Team HRC riders, Paulo Gonçalves, Hélder Rodrigues and Joan Barreda, with the first of the rally’s five stages setting off tomorrow morning from Losail. The Honda CRF450 RALLYs are once again fine-tuned and ready to face the performance demands required by the Qatar desert.

 With only three previous outings, the Sealine now forms a part of the World Raids calendar, and includes one of the largest proportions of special compared to the race’s overall mileage: the course is made up of a total of 1912.95 kilometres, with 90.94% against the clock.

 Team HRC goes into the second championship race with Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves, current world champion, and leader so far in the 2014 edition after a terrific win in Abu Dhabi; Joan Barreda, in third place in the event, as well as Portuguese Hélder Rodrigues, currently occupying seventh place

Paulo Gonçalves prossegue amanhã com a renovação do título mundial no Qatar

Campeão do Mundo em 2013 começou a nova temporada com a vitória na primeira prova em Abu Dhabi 

Paulo Gonçalves inicia amanhã a segunda prova do Campeonato do Mundo de Ralis Todo-o-Terreno, temporada de 2014, o Sealine Cross-Country Rally, que decorre no Qatar até ao próximo dia 25 de Abril. 

Depois da vitória no arranque da nova temporada, no Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, prova que lhe valeu a liderança do campeonato, Paulo Gonçalves chega ao Qatar determinado em manter a primeira posição e a equipa Honda HRC no bom caminho para a renovação do título mundial.

“Estamos perante a segunda prova do Campeonato do Mundo de Ralis Todo-o-Terreno, ganhei a primeira e espero seguir nesta mesma linha aqui no Qatar. Estamos bem preparados para lutar novamente como equipa e espero que possamos sair com uma vitória conjunta desta prova. A equipa está muito forte, a nossa mota cada vez melhor e por isso temos todas as ferramentas para fazer um grande trabalho”, admitiu.

 Paulo Gonçalves, que ostenta o dorsal número um na sua Honda CRF 450 Rally, competirá uma vez mais ao lado de mais dois dos grandes nomes da atualidade do motociclismo Todo-o-Terreno mundial, o compatriota Hélder Rodrigues e o “hermano” Joan Barreda Bort, ambos a formar o trio de ataque da equipa oficial do construtor japonês Honda.

 O Sealine Cross-Country Rally terá um total de 1912,95 quilómetros, dos quais cerca de 90% serão a contra-relógio. A primeira etapa da prova qatariana cumprirá uma especial cronometrada na ordem dos 160 quilómetros.

Sealine Cross-Country Rally 2014 começa em Losail amanhã

· Competitors from 18 countries set for Sealine desert challenge 

· Competitive Sealine action starts with 164.18km section on Monday 

· 2001 Dakar champion Jutta Kleinschmidt in route verification role

 FIA World Cup leader Vladimir Vasilyev and defending Dakar Rally champion Marc Coma will lead their respective car and motorcycle rivals from 18 countries into the start of the 2014 Sealine Cross-Country Rally at the Losail international circuit, north of Doha, on Monday morning.

 Ahead of a top class field entered in their respective rounds of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship are five days and 1,739.55km of punishing off-road competition through the deserts of Qatar.

 Intense heat, wind and dust, coupled with tricky navigation and varied landscapes make this one of the most challenging events of its kind on the planet and a crucial test event for competitors keen to prepare for the next Dakar Rally.

 Both car and motorcycle categories will not only feature the fight for individual glory, but also the battle between manufacturers for pride of place at the top of their respective championship classifications. Mini takes on Toyota in the car category - through the X-raid and Overdrive Racing teams – and Team HRC Rally (Honda) lines up against the Red Bull KTM Factory Team in the two-wheel category.

 Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the president of the organising Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and FIA vice-president for sport MENA, hosted a series of three press conferences at Losail on Sunday afternoon, once the leading teams had completed their scrutineering and documentation checks.

  “I would like to welcome all our competitors to Qatar for the start of what we hope will be another safe and successful Sealine Cross-Country Rally,” said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, who held a minute’s silence during the motorcycle press conference for the Dubai-based British rider Cameron Waugh, who lost his life in an accident at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge two weeks ago.

  “Our entries have strength in depth and we look forward to five days of exciting competition on the challenging route that our team at the QMMF has devised.”

 Abdul Salam Abu-Issa, CEO of the sponsoring Salam International Group, joined Al-Attiyah initially before leading quad and motorcycle riders took centre stage. Front-running drivers in the car category, including Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, were then presented to the international and local media.

 The host nation will be hoping that the talented rider Mohammed Abu Issa is able to match and beat Polish rival Rafal Sonik in the quad category. “For sure, the experience I gained at the Dakar Rally will stand me in good stead, but Rafal (Sonik) is also very experienced in the Middle East and it will not be easy to beat him,” said Abu Issa.

  “The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was disappointing me with the engine problem and it cost me a lot of points towards the championship,” said Al-Rajhi. “Now I am back with the Toyota team. I won with them in Russia and Italy. The objective is a podium and to get back into contention for the championship. It’s a busy time for me with the Jordan Rally next week and then Argentina the week after.”

 The QMMF president also received a special award from Marat Abykayev, the Kazakh FIA and FIM president, who is head of a visiting delegation from the central Asian country. Al-Attiyah then presented gifts to both Abykayev and Abdul Salem Abu Issa of the Salam International Group for their support.

 The 2001 Dakar Rally winner Jutta Kleinschmidt and her former Italian navigator Fabrizia Pons have been chosen to run as the route verification team. The German became the first and only woman in history to win the Dakar with the Mitsubishi Ralliart team and she will pass through each stage in advance of the entrants to check the accuracy of the road book and to ensure that weather conditions haven’t caused any major changes to the terrain.

 Tomorrow (Monday), motorcycles leave the start podium at Losail from 10.00hrs and begin the opening 164.18km selective section from 11.30hrs.

 Cars follow over the podium from 11.15hrs and commence the stage, which finishes 2.21km from the Sealine bivouac, at 12.45hrs. The event finishes at Sealine on Friday afternoon.

 SPECTATOR VANTAGE POINT

 Day 1 – Monday SS1 – 28.82 km (1st bike 11.45hrs/1st car 13.00hrs) approx.
Doha/Salwa Rd
Leave Salwa Rd at exit 42 turning right
Follow the route for 11.5 km
There is a passage control immediately before the cars and bikes cross the tarmac road. It is possible to see the competitors for almost 500 metres on a track parallel to the asphalt before they turn left and pass a bridge over a pipeline.

 2014 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – leading starters

Cars

301. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing
302. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (GER) Toyota Hilux
 303. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux
304. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing
305. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Andreas Schulz (GER) Mini All4 Racing
306. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Toyota Hilux
307. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) H3 Evo 7
308. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Toyota Hilux
309. Martin Kaczmarski (POL)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) Mini All4 Racing
 310. Yayha Al-Helai (ARE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (ARE) Nissan Pick-Up

 Bikes

1. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 450
2. Ruben Faria (PRT) KTM 450
3. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 450
4. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450
5. Paolo Goncalves (PRT) Honda CRF 450
6. Helder Rodrigues (PRT) Honda CRF 450
7. Joan Barreda-Bort (ESP) Honda CRF 450
8. Michael Ott-Eulberg (GER) Speedbrain 450 Rally
9. Santosh CS (IND) KTM 450
10. Stuart Charleston (AUS) Aprilia RXV 450

 Quads

 15. Rafal Sonik (POL) Honda TRX 700
16. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) Honda TRX 680
17. Adel Hussein (QAT) Yamaha Raptor 700

Rui Sousa e Prolama na máxima força…

• Edgar Condenso quer vencer T2 

 * Alexandre Franco Confirmar 2013 

• João Cardoso, na luta pelo pódio 

 * Jorge Cardoso estreia absoluta

 A Prolama Competição volta à prova da Sociedade Artística Reguenguense com uma formação de luxo. Cinco carros à partida fazem da formação de Vila Nova da Rainha a equipa mais numerosa em prova, e com um leque de objectivos bem definidos para um resultado final de grande nível.

 Rui Sousa e Carlos Silva, perseguem o objectivo de vencer em Reguengos, embora conscientes do numeroso e valoroso numero de adversários. A Isuzu D-Max Proto revista será a arma escolhida para dar inicio á época 2014, conforme Rui Sousa referiu; “…vamos continuar a perseguir a vitória em Reguengos, no entanto sabemos que a concorrência é fortíssima e esse facto dá-nos ainda mais motivação. Não temos grandes novidades, mas vamos rodar num ritmo forte para estar no grupo da frente. A Equipa trabalhou muito durante o defeso e a Prolama com os seus pilotos vai lutar por vitórias em diversas frentes…” concluiu

 O Campeão T2 em Titulo, Edgar Condenso vai defender a vitória do ano transacto com a D-Max do Team Consilcar, e quer iniciar o ano a vencer; “…eu e o Nuno Silva vamos lutar pela vitória numa prova que gostamos muito. A quantidade dos nossos oponentes aumentou e a nossa motivação também. Vamos ter uma corrida muito disputada…” declarou Edgar Condenso depois de testar a sua Isuzu. 

Alexandre Franco e o seu irmão Rui, regressam também aos comandos da Nissan T2, para confirmar o excelente andamento demonstrado no ano passado; “…queremos validar todo o trabalho realizado em 2013. O vice-titulo conquistado não foi um acaso e agora temos de confirmá-lo. O carro sofreu uma grande revisão e acredito que podemos lutar pelas vitórias…” confirmou Alexandre Franco visivelmente motivado.

 Ainda no agrupamento T2, a Prolama apadrinha a estreia absoluta de Jorge Cardoso nos automóveis, depois de muitos anos nas duas rodas. Acompanhado por Paulo Torres o piloto de Salvaterra de Magos vai iniciar o campeonato com uma nova Isuzu D-Max contruída de raiz para o efeito. “…estou ansioso pelo inicio da prova, para perceber como tudo se desenrola dentro de um carro. Tudo é novidade para mim, desde a posição de condução ao facto de ter um navegador a falar comigo. Não estou habituado a ouvir, e agradeço ao Paulo Torres a disponibilidade para me acompanhar. Nesta primeira prova, o objectivo é claramente aprender o mais possível sobre esta nova disciplina, o resultado é o menos importante…” concluiu Jorge Cardoso

 Outro regresso ao Ervideira Rali é a de João Cardoso, o piloto radicado no Brasil que volta ao campeonato português integrado na Prolama, para pilotar o Evoque já conhecido em Portugal. “surgiu esta oportunidade e aproveitei para regressar ao nacional com uma viatura cheia de potencial. Alvo de uma revisão aturada nas instalações da Prolama, não tivemos no entanto tempo para testar as soluções encontradas, por isso vamos a Reguengos aferir o resultado do trabalho feito nas últimas semanas. As expectativas são assim moderadas, mas conto andar num bom ritmo para fazer o maior número de quilómetros possíveis, para habituação a este novo carro…” estas as palavras do piloto que será acompanhado por Luis Marques. 

Estão assim lançadas as bases para um fim-de-semana cheio de emoção e aventura, por terras alentejanas, nas margens do maior espelho de agua da Europa, a Barragem do Alqueva.

 Motivos suficientes para acompanhar a Equipa Prolama, a partir de sexta- feira (25/04) com um Prólogo na Herdade da Ervideira, e depois os dois sectores selectivos no Sábado (26/04) na Região de Reguengos de Monsaraz.

 Ainda em clima de animação, estará toda a Equipa na Festa de Apresentação, da celebração dos 20 anos da Dupla Rui Sousa /Carlos Silva que decorrerá na noite de Sábado, no Bar JP2 em Reguengos, com a presença de todos os pilotos, navegadores, Equipa técnica e Patrocinadores, assim como os muitos Amigos que se vão deslocar para assistir á prova.

sábado, 19 de Abril de 2014

Russo Vladimir Vasilyev quer defender liderança na Taça do Mundo FIA no Qatar

· Team Honda rider Paolo Goncalves leads FIM series after round one 

· Documentation and scrutineering takes place at Losail circuit

 Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev will defend a 33-point lead in the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, when he tackles this week’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally across the deserts of Qatar.

 The Mini All4 Racing driver was catapulted into contention for an inaugural title after taking the biggest win of his career at the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The 60 points he earned, coupled with 33 he amassed at the two Baja events in Russia and Italy, make him the early season favourite to win this year’s title.

 He will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his Polish team-mate Krzysztof Holowczyc, the defending champion who also drives a Mini All4 Racing in the five-day event being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).

 Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi is the Russian’s closest rival heading into the fourth round of the championship and the second of the long-distance Marathon events. Al-Rajhi switches back to a Toyota Hilux for this rally, having won both the Bajas in Russia and Italy at the wheel of the Overdrive Racing car.

 Toyota colleagues Adam Malysz and Marek Dabrowski, both from Poland, are the closest challengers after three rounds, although a good result for either Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal or Brazilian Reinaldo Varela would put them in contention.

 Firm favourite for outright victory in the car category is the 2012 winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, who returns to the X-raid team to drive a Mini All4 Racing for the first time since the Dakar Rally in January. The Qatari has a detailed knowledge of his local desert and a 60-point haul for first place would lift Al-Attiyah into contention for a second FIA World Cup title and may well change his plans for the remainder of the season.

  “Sealine will definitely be an interesting event with several potential winners,” said X-raid Mini team manager Sven Quandt. “Nasser will be out to win at home and, at the same time, Vladimir and Yazeed are fighting for FIA World Cup points. Krzysztof and Martin (Kaczmarski) have also got what it takes to get to the very top. For me, it is important that we repeat the result we achieved in Abu Dhabi.”

 Three quad and 15 motorcycle riders were on the list to attend pre-race administration checks at the Losail international circuit on Saturday.

 Team Honda Racing arrives in Doha with a five-point lead in the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship Manufacturers’ series over the factory Red Bull KTM team. Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves stole victory form Marc Coma on the final stage of the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and he holds a three-point lead in the title race after round one.

  “I was so happy to win in Abu Dhabi,” said Goncalves. “Honda has a very strong team now and we have a competitive bike, some really fast riders and we have the championship lead.”

  “We know KTM has a strong team and they led in Abu Dhabi until the final day,” added Team HRC manager Wolfgang Fischer. “It was great to make that victory ours and break their long winning streak. Marc (Coma) had won there seven years in a row and KTM had won 12 years in a row and now Honda leads the championship. It makes this week in Qatar all the more exciting.”

Tomorrow (Sunday), the leading car crews attend administration and scrutineering checks at Losail, before the QMMF hosts a series of three pre-event press conferences for officials, sponsors, riders and drivers from 16.00hrs. The competitive action gets underway on Monday morning (April 21st).