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Qatar’s Adel Abdulla fights back to finish sixth in T3 at punishing Italian Baja

Pordenone, Italy: Qatar’s Adel Abdulla overcame his early windscreen wiper issues on Saturday to finish the gruelling Italian Baja in sixth position in the T3 category on Sunday.

The third round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas was particularly demanding on this occasion. Heavy rain, mud and difficult passes through the Cosa and Tagliamento rivers made the going extremely difficult for the T3 cars, which could not benefit from a windscreen or side windows like their T1 and T2 counterparts.

Adel Abdulla and French co-driver Jean-Michel Polato guided their Can-Am Maverick X3 to the finish in a total time of 7hrs 05min 46sec and that put them 56min 34sec behind the eventual Russian winner Fedor Vorobyev, but enabled the Doha-based driver to remain firmly in contention for the T3 title after three rounds of the eight-race series.

Running with support from the FN Speed Team and Ooredoo, the Qatar telecommunications company, Adel now has less than a month to prepare for the fourth round in the heat of Spain in July.

Adel said: “We finished the race after a better final day than yesterday. We pushed on the first stage today, but there is no service between the stages. I had nothing to lose and I needed to catch up time. In the last 30km of the first stage this morning we had a slow rear-left puncture and I thought something was wrong with the rear arm, but we still did a good time.

“The second stage, we were fast and clean until five kilometres from the finish, the belt destroyed itself and we had to change it and lost around four or five minutes. We have more points now, but the Russian driver won and claimed the 25 points and that will make it a little more difficult for us now. Saying that, we have five races to go and we will see what happens.”

The Qatari began the third of the runs through the 79.43km of the Barbeano selective section in eighth overall in the T3 rankings, with Italy’s Amerigo Ventura leading the way from Vorobyev and Santiago Navarro.

Poland’s Michal Goczal clocked the fastest time of 1hr 07min 49sec on a stage where Adel Abdullah was sixth quickest and moved up to seventh overall when former leader Amerigo Ventura was sidelined at the night halt. Various time penalties were also imposed on several drivers and Vorobyev found himself leading the category by 1min 23.5sec from Navarro.

Two runs through the revised 80.15km of the Gradisca stage followed on Sunday before the return to Pordenone for the ceremonial finish.

Michal Goczal set a second successive fastest time of 1hr 08min 53sec through the opener to consolidate his fourth position, as Vorobyev increased his overall advantage over Navarro to 3min 52.5sec and Adel Abdulla maintained seventh with the fifth quickest time.

Vorobyev sealed the win with a final stage time of 1hr 11min 29sec, but the last stage win went to Michal Goczal, as Adel Abdulla confirmed valuable championship points for finishing in sixth place after Omani rival Abdullah Al-Zubair hit a tree and dropped out of contention.

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