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SWRC wrap: Al Rajhi getting closer

Saudi Ford star has eight-minute lead going into the final day in Portugal


By www.wrc.com

31 March 2012 - 20:52
SWRC wrap: Al Rajhi getting closer

Yazeed Al Rajhi has enjoyed a trouble-free day in his Ford Fiesta RRC, further extending his advantage at the front of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship field on Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

With one day remaining, the Saudi Arabian driver is now close to eight and a half minutes ahead of second-placed Maciek Oleksowicz.

Fiesta driver Oleksowicz moved up into second place on the day’s opening test, easing his way past Pedro Meireles (Mitsubishi).

Hayden Paddon, who restarted under Rally 2 regulations following his retirement on Friday, also demoted the local star on the penultimate stage of the day, but Meireles wasn’t concerned about dropping from second to fourth - his sights were firmly set on the end of the day.

“The Portuguese championship round ends this evening,” said the Lancer driver. “So I am happy to make the service park for points in this championship, this is most important for me.”

Ahead of him, Al Rajhi was delighted with his day, saying: “We have driven very carefully today, not taking any major risks at all - and we have been able to build an even bigger lead. Tomorrow, we have a clear strategy: to make it to the finish, that is the only thing we have to do.”

Al Rajhi, who is co-driven by Briton Michael Orr, starts tomorrow desperate for his first SWRC win, which would make him the third different winner in the three rounds run so far, following on from Craig Breen’s round one win on Rallye Monte-Carlo and PROTON ace’s P-G Andersson’s star drive in Sweden.

Oleksowicz’s only concern was running soft tyres through the afternoon’s dry stages, but the Polish driver is likely to come under threat from Paddon’s flying Skoda on tomorrow’s final day.

Paddon’s charge back through the field continued, but the Kiwi’s pace was also slowed by being forced to run soft compound tyres all round after he punctured one of the hard covers mid-way through the afternoon loop.


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