The opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rally is renowned as one of the most varied and challenging in the world calendar and the duo survived their fair share of issues to steer the two Can-Am Maverick T3s to the ceremonial finish in eighth and 12th in the overall standings after nearly 1,400 competitive kilometres across the length and breadth of the State of Qatar.
Vorobeyev was running under the Zavidovo Racing Team banner with fellow countryman Kirill Shubin, while Al-Zubair ran under the umbrella of the AZ Racing Team with Qatari navigator Nasser Al-Kuwari.
South Racing Can-Am Team’s Scott Abraham, said: “It was a testament to his determination that Fedor finished eighth. It was his first international cross-country rally. He has a lot of experience racing in Russia. He raced the rally to his abilities. This is an important lesson for everyone. You need to try and finish every day. He finished second and now he goes to Dubai in a week’s time and then on to Abu Dhabi, as he is also racing in the World Cup.
“Abdullah, unfortunately, broke a turbo two days ago. He would have had a very strong race and I am sure that he would have been in contention for the top three. He showed again that he definitely has the talent to build on a good driving career. He will also go to Dubai to continue the Baja campaign, having finished second in Russia, and then he moves on to Abu Dhabi. It is definitely going to be an exciting year for South Racing Can-Am.”
The duo began brightly and settled into the navigation well through the relatively straightforward opening stage of 109.76km that started and finished close to the village of Al-Khasaah. The pair reached the finish in 13th and 17th overall and fourth and sixth in the T3 category, with the Russian completing the stage on three wheels and a damaged tyre and managing to return to the bivouac without damaging the braking system with the puncture.
Punctures and belt issues threaten to derail Al-Zubair’s push on the second stage of 323.68km that started to the north of Al-Khor and skirted the western shoreline of the State of Qatar, before finishing near the village of Mukaines. But the Omani fought back well and reached the finish of the special in second position in the T3 category and ninth overall. Vorobeyev suffered his own fair share of delays and was classified fourth in T3 and 14th overall.
There were mixed fortunes for the duo on the third and longest stage of the entire event on day three. The special started to the west of Doha and headed towards the Inland Sea and the first real series of sand dunes. Al-Zubair complained that the Can-Am was down on power and was forced to stop to avoid terminal engine issues.
His Qatari co-driver Nasser Al-Kuwari explained: “It was around 70km in the stage and we were leading the T3. We felt there was no power in the car. We try to move again. (Reinaldo) Varela caught us, but there was white smoke. We knew it was the turbo. We called the team and we took the decision to come back to Lusail.”
Vorobeyev stopped a couple of times on the run south and then lost a lot of time digging himself out of a sandy hole, but the terrain had taken its toll on many of his closest rivals and the Russian eventually reached the finish in ninth overall and held second in T3, albeit nearly two hours behind Varela.
Al-Zubair recovered well with the fourth and second fastest T3 times on the pair of shorter leg four stages, while Vorobeyev saw off the challenge from Qatar’s Khalid Al-Mohannadi to take a firm grip on eighth overall and second in the T3 category. He trailed Varela by 2hrs 36min 10sec heading into the final stage.
There were no late dramas for the Russian or the Omani and they reached the finish in second and fourth in T3 and eighth and 12th overall.
For further information: contact Scott Abraham, South Racing, Email: Scott.Abraham@southracing.com, Tel: + 49 172 6662880.
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