Mumtaz Al Balushi –
Omani young racer Abdullah al Zubair had a brilliant achievement for the Sultanate sport after clinching the second place in Baja Poland, the ninth round of FIA cross-country rally championship on Can Am car with his co-driver Faisal al Raisi.
The rally which has been organised in Poland for three days consisting 7 stages including special stage has been successfully ended with a superb result from the Omani racer. Abdullah reached the finishing point ahead of the champion in the 10 km last stage.
Abdullah finished the rally second in the UTV National category, his first ever podium in Europe. The Omani driver also secured 10th spot overall among 49 cars that took part in Baja Poland rally.
Abdullah stared the first day from position 31 on the queue list and finished the stage 19th. The stage was organised in the forests of western Poland for 7 km, and as per that result has started the second day in position 21 after regrouping been done in the service park.
With the rally’s longest stage in Drawko for 220 km on the second day, the Omani driver has shown his excellent pace on the Can Am but he had stopped twice during the stage as the gearbox belt of the Can Am has cut which caused his late arrival to the finishing point.
A lot of navigation work had been done by co-driver Faisal al Raisi during this stage as the distance was too long. There was no space to overtake and few drivers left the rally at that stage for technical problems.
The long stage has been repeated for the second time with the same distance of 220 kilometres in the afternoon where the Omani driver improved his timing and reached the finish point earlier than the first time.
At the end of the second day and after finishing three stages, Abdullah was in good position following head to head with the leader of the group Merilov from Poland.
After the races, Abdullah became 2nd in the group and 12th fastest in the rally.
This was a great result for the Omani driver attending the Baja rallies for the second time in Europe after the first in Aragon in Spain.
It was more challenging for him to be ready for the last day to gain better timing from the leader.
The South Racing technical team has instructed Abdullah to be carefully and cushion with other slower drivers ensuring safe arrival in the last stages and the car was well prepared for the last four stages on the third day. However, Abdullah was in flying speed form during the fourth stage to take the last stage from the leader.
Al Zubair expressed his happiness in making to the podium.
“It is really a big celebration time for me, Faisal and all guys here in South Racing Team. We did it at the end. I am so happy for the first achievement in Europe with my second participation after Baja Aragon in Spain.”
“To be very frank, it was difficult to reach to this position with some strong participants from local champions in Poland, but we tried our best to achieve something for Oman and we got it,” he explained.
“I was following the leader for long but the technical problems we had on the second day could not make it possible to reach him and at the end I am glad and hope that I can participate next season with some sponsorship from local companies in Oman.”
The right hand in this win was the Navigator Faisal al Raisi who shared some of the discussion and said that it was not easy at all to do navigation in these situations, where the view was not clear at all in the stages because of the forests and dunes.
He added that it is the time now to be proud of our success. “We should celebrate now. Next, we should plan for the coming step and we are heading now in the right track in this sport and hope that we get support from everyone in Oman”.
Team manager Ivan has indicated that the Can Am driven by Abdullah is heaver by 200 kilograms than the leader’s, which makes him slower than the leader.
“On the podium with his second attempt in Europe, I think Abdullah will do better and better in coming races, as he has very good pace,” Ivan said.