Muscat: Ongoing and, ultimately, unresolvable electrical problems during the second round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup in Abu Dhabi forced a frustrating early retirement for AZ Racing’s Abdullah al Zubair and Nasser al Kuwari — dealing a significant blow to the duo’s T3 class title ambitions. Performing very strongly on the opening stage of the week-long Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge last Sunday, March 31, difficulties began to surface for Al Zubair and Al Kuwari three quarters of the way into Leg One when the electrics started to cause problems.
Retiring and returning to the service park, where the Powertec Dubai and South Racing mechanics worked through the night to get to the bottom of the issue with the No 333 BRP Can-Am Maverick X3, hopes of improvements on day two were ended almost immediately when the issue resurfaced.
Not even able to take the start of Leg Two on Monday, more intense work took place to try and find a solution to the continued problems. For the third Leg on Tuesday, Al Zubair and Al Kuwari were able to show glimpses of their true pace and competitiveness and even though the four-wheel drive failed, they still managed to finish fourth in T3 on that stage — the longest of the event.
Determined to showcase their skills with a challenge for a stage win at the very least over the final two days of the rally, all went well early on during Wednesday’s run with the AZ Racing entry inside the top two. More trouble with the electrics, though, forced retirement once again — and eventual retirement from the entire rally with one day of action remaining.
Abdullah Al Zubair:
“Its really sad to retire from the rally, the championship is now very difficult for us to achieve but we’ll keep fighting. I was very happy with our performance, and the car and the set-up, but these things with the electrical and mechanical problems are unfortunately not in our hands and we have to accept that. Now, we’re looking ahead to the next races where we plan to be back where we should be.”
Nasser Al Kuwari:
“It’s very unfortunate we had to retire from the rally. We came to Abu Dhabi with high hopes, as one of the favourites in our class, and we performed very well until the technical problems started to occur. It amazed everyone these problems happened, but it wasn’t in our hands and there was nothing the team could do. We were very happy with our performance though and we’re looking forward to the next round.” Round three of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup was scheduled to be the Turkmen Desert Race in Turkmenistan a few weeks from now. Following cancellation of that event, though, the next round will be Rally Kazakhstan between Sunday, May 26, and Saturday, June 1.