ANDALUCÍA RALLY 2021
TWO IN A ROW FOR SANTOLINO, FIRST FOR SAINZ
In the bikes victory on the day went to Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco Factory Rallye) ahead of Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda) at 01’51 with Joan Barreda third at 02’05. Overall Santolino leads with Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda) second (at 01’43) and Franco Caimi (Hero Motorsports) third 04’24. In the quads it was once again Sebastien Souday who was quickest. In the cars Carlos Sainz (Mini John Cooper Works Rally) managed to get to grips with his 4×4 to win the stage ahead of Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Toyota Hilux Overdrive – at 01’08) with Nasser Al-Attiyah (Nasser Racing) third at 01’15. Overall Al-Attiyah holds onto the lead 01’26 in front of Sainz with Vaidotas Zala (Mini John Cooper Works Rally) third at 04’48. In T3 victory went to newcomer Guillaume de Mevius (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team) who also leads overall. Khalifa Al-Attiyah pulls off the same feat in T4.
All the front runners agreed that the second stage of this Andalucía Rally 2021, concocted by David Castera, was both long and challenging. Over the first special it was twisty and towards the end technical and then after the neutralisation much faster and slippery, all of it particularly hard on rear tyres.
A combination of terrain that suited the Spaniard Lorenzo Santolino down to the ground, allowing him to achieve the rally-raid holy grail of winning from the front. Commented the Sherco Factory Rallye rider: “A really good day for me – I opened the special the whole way. I feel confident with the navigation and have a good feeling on the bike. Towards the end the tyre started to lose grip – I guess it was the same for everyone – so I slowed down a little not to take any risks.”
Not so at ease on this kind of baja style rally, Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda) also did better than he expected to finish third: “Normally we don’t ride this kind of terrain and it is not so good for me, because I prefer open desert, but I’m starting to feel more comfortable on the bike. Every kilometre I get used to it more. I still have to find the bike’s limits, but I think we’re going in the right direction and I’m really enjoying the riding.”
Also enjoying the twisty tracks on his quad, and busy avoiding looking at the results was category winner and overall leader Sebastien Souday (All Tracks). “All the first part of the special was great for us but the end of the first special was too fast for me. The second special had a few tricky bits where you had to really ride to view. Overall an excellent day. Apparently I’m not too bad in the results but the most important thing for me is to enjoy myself. If you start looking at the classifications, you start to make mistakes. I’ll have a look at them at the end.”
Leading the Challenge Road to Dakar is beach racing specialist and ex-enduro rider Julien Jagu (LG Rally Team) making his rally-raid debut here in Andalusia. “I’ve always liked riding on sand and racing enduro so I thought rally-raid might be the way to go. Obviously there’s no sand here but I’m really enjoying the experience. There’s a lot to learn and I’m really concentrating on the navigation. I’ll think about riding faster later. For the moment, as soon as the terrain opens up, I’m maintaining a big safety margin.”
In the cars the changes the X-raid team made to Carlos Sainz’s (Mini John Cooper Works Rally) car allowed the Spanish legend to get his mojo back and win his first rally-raid stage in a 4×4 since 2011! Though he knows he’s still going to have his work cut out beating Nasser Al-Attiyah… Commented ‘El Matador’: “Yesterday evening we made quite a few changes and today I was more confident with the car. I could push more and trust the car’s reactions more. Basically I have adapted the car better to my style. We know that opening (tomorrow) is more difficult but I’m happy with the step we made today. Nasser knows his car by heart, he has been competing with it for three or four years, bajas, rallies… This is my first race with this car and I’m happy with my race today.”
Happy Carlos may be, but Nasser is also still smiling, despite finishing ‘only’ third on the day’s stage: Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Yes, it was a good day for us. We opened the whole way. We got lost at only one point which cost maybe 50 seconds or a minute and then we pushed a little without making any mistakes. I’m happy to have opened the day without any punctures. We only lost 7 seconds to Yazeed (Al-Rajhi) and 1 minute or so to Carlos (Sainz). Tomorrow it will be a good road position for us. We will start third car and we can do a good job.”
Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Toyota Hilux Overdrive) also had a much better day despite a slow puncture on the second special. The same could not be said for Vaidotas Zala (Mini John Cooper Works Rally) who struggled to find the right rhythm over today’s stage. Admitted the Lithuanian: “We made some mistakes, probably lack of attention and I was too cautious over part of the stage. My co-driver told me to push harder so we improved a little bit but we need to push more tomorrow. Hopefully starting fourth behind Nasser will be better.”
In T3 victory went to Guillaume de Mevius (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team) ahead of teammates Mitchell Gutherie and Cristina Guttierrez. De Mevius also picks up the overall lead after Seth Quintero was unable to start the special due to gearbox problems. Guttierrez is now second and Gutherie third. Guillaume de Mevius: “We picked up the pace a little today. Very happy with the car, very happy with the team. I still have to work on myself a little. There were things I could have done better today. We still have room for improvement but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. After all, I came into this discipline for a more relaxed atmosphere.”
In T4 Nasser can still be proud of his brother Khalifa Al-Attiyah (South Racing) who again wins the day to beef up his overall leader. Back after yesterday’s crash Aron Domzala (Monster Energy Can Am) finished second on the day ahead of teammate Austin Jones. Overall Austin Jones is second with Kees Koolen (South Racing) third.
LEG 3 : The ‘Marathon’
Liaison : Liaison : 132 km / SS : 315 km / Total : 447 km / Chrono : 70 %
David Castera: “This is the longest and fastest special of the rally. Among us in the organisation we have dubbed it ‘the Marathon’. Nearly 300 kilometres in one go, cut only by a refuelling, as the competitors could have on a Dakar. It is a very rally-raid, very quick, with a fast pace between the wheat fields. As for the first leg, we will be in a zone that we already explored last year.”
ANDALUCÍA RALLY 2021 PROGRAMME
From Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 May : stages 1 to 4
Sunday 16 May – evening : official prizegiving