Outright leads for Al-Attiyah, Sunderland, Sonik at Qatar Cross-Country Rally

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah during the third day action Thursday in the Qatar Cross-Country Rally
Updated 20 April 2017
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Outright leads for Al-Attiyah, Sunderland, Sonik at Qatar Cross-Country Rally

LOSAIL, Qatar: Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Austria’s Matthias Walkner and Poland’s Rafal Sonik claimed victories in the third stage of the Qatar Cross-Country Rally, but Al-Attiyah, Dubai-based Briton Sam Sunderland and Sonik held the overall advantages in the car, motorcycle and quad categories after a windy day’s action in the Qatar deserts.
The day’s stage of 353.02km started near Sealine, passed the Inland Sea and then meandered across to the west coast before heading north to an eventual finish at Mekaines. Al-Attiyah attacked through the early sand dunes and began to eat into Yazeed Al-Rajhi’s virtual stage lead. The Saudi had moved to the top of the rankings when overnight leader Jakub Przygonski lost time in the sand.
Al-Attiyah continued to dominate throughout the day and, when Al-Rajhi withdrew from the stage after 277km following suspension damage in a ditch, the Qatari stormed to the top of the leaderboard and now holds an advantage of 3min 23.7sec over Toyota team-mate Leeroy Poulter, the South African making his first appearance in the Middle East.
Al-Attiyah said: “The car is working very well and we do our job and our target to win the stage. Now we are leading and try to keep going like this. The wind made it not easy and we had a small mistake in the dunes and we lose around three minutes. But we came back strong.”
“We broke the front left in a ditch and tried to drive the stage slowly, step-by-step, but then we decided to (pull) out,” said Al-Rajhi, who arrived in Losail with a Mini sporting a puncture and broken front-left suspension. “It got worse and worse. We see tomorrow what our start position will be and we will push.”
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi carded the second quickest time to move up to fifth overall behind third-placed Qatari Mohammed Abu Issa and Przygonski. Dutchman Erik van Loon was sixth in a third Toyota Hilux run by Overdrive Racing.
KTM Red Bull Factory Team rider Sunderland made a storming start from the front in the motorcycle category and stayed well ahead of his rivals through the first two checkpoints. But his pursuers managed to close in over the faster sections as the stage progressed and Austrian Matthias Walkner claimed the stage win and moved up to third overall.
Walkner said: “I realize now that I won the stage. Sure, it helps a bit when you start at the back. It was so windy out there and almost on the limits for the safety reasons. Sometimes you did not see any piste or nothing. It was really hard, but I am happy that I make up for the time loss yesterday. The dunes were okay because Sam did a great job to leave the lines to follow. But, after the refueling, it was getting really difficult with the navigation and I slow down a lot.”
Sunderland continues to lead outright by 6min 28.9sec from Monster Energy Honda team rider Paulo Gonçalves. Pablo Quintanilla of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Team holds fourth and Honda’s Kevin Benavides is fifth. Ride to Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi holds eighth place.
Gonçalves was upbeat after his second place: ”I did another good stage. There were sand dunes at the beginning and then we arrived at the fast stony tracks. Before refueling, Sam push a lot and I cannot catch him. Then he did a mistake and I start to open the track. I am happy. The bike ran perfectly. We have two days more and a long race in front.”
Alexis Hernandez lost his quad lead when he was penalized for missing two waypoints and the Peruvian slipped to second after day three behind the day’s stage winner Rafal Sonik.
Qatar’s Adel Abdulla lost his T2 category lead in the sand dunes south of Sealine and that opened the door for Abu Dhabi Racing’s Mansour Al-Helai to claim the stage win and move ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Saeidan in the standings. The duo are 12th and 13th overall. Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Harqan is third.

“From the first 20km from the start, the temperature of the engine went up and we stopped to try and fix it,” said Adel Abdulla. “The fan had broken. Problems are chasing me from the beginning of the season. I tried my best not to miss any waypoints. You never know. There are still two long days to go.”
Saudi Arabia’s Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi finished the shorter non-FIM section on his Yamaha quad for a second day, with fellow countryman Sultan Al-Masood running behind.


Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

Updated 25 June 2018
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Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

  • The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament
  • The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal

KAZAN: Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado scored as stylish Colombia boosted their World Cup last 16 hopes with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
In a match destined to see the loser sent home after the group stages, Colombia overcame a nervous start against Adam Nawalka’s men to move up to third place in Group H, one point behind Japan and Senegal.
The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament.
“I’m very sorry and very sad about the result, but tomorrow’s another day and we have to come to terms with things,” said Poland coach Adam Nawalka.
“Our players did their best until the end of the game. We lost to a very strong team and this is something we have to accept.
“I extend my congratulations to Colombia.”
The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal, who drew 2-2 with Japan earlier in the day.
Colombia’s march to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago came thanks to James Rodriguez’s six-goal tally for Los Cafeteros.
And days after a troublesome calf injury restricted him to a half-hour cameo role as 10-man Colombia stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Japan, the Bayern Munich midfielder was back to his best.
Starting alongside Juan Quintero and Cuadrado on the right, Colombia’s ultra-offensive starting line-up was a forewarning.
After riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia eventually got into their stride.
Cuadrado was wasteful on several occasions when finding space deep on the right flank.
The Juventus winger’s trickery would eventually pay dividends, but it was Falcao — who has dreamed all his life of scoring a World Cup goal — who turned on the style, dancing through the Polish defense to win the corner that led to Colombia’s opener.
Rodriguez’s short corner eventually found Quintero, whose smart through ball back to Rodriguez gave him time and space to curl a perfect left-footed cross that Mina rose to header powerfully past Szczesny on 40 minutes.
Colombia resumed in positive fashion, Cuadrado holding up well to set up Falcao for a first-time drive that sailed over Szczesny’s crossbar.
A Colombia counter saw Falcao’s drive from the edge of the area deflected out for a corner.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch almost paid dividends.
Only the bravery of goalkeeper David Ospina saved Colombia from conceding what looked like the equalizer when he rushed out to block from Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker did well to get a shot away from a long ball from midfield.
Poland threatened again, but when Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
Colombia, however, were not to be denied.
When right-back Sanitago Arias found Quintero, the midfielder sliced Poland’s defense apart with a low pass that found Falcao on the run before he beat Szczesny down low with the outside of his right boot.
Five minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night, drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger tucked away.