Dubai’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei and German co-driver Andreas Schulz face a critical test of their chances of winning the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, when they tackle next week’s six-day Pharoahs International Cross-Country Rally in Egypt.
The punishing six-day, long distance rally across the Egyptian deserts counts for double points and Al-Mutaiwei – the Dubai-based Fazza Rally Team star – heads to Cairo with a slender eight-point advantage over Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser in the drivers’ championship. Sixty points will be available to for the winner of the event on October 6th, with 42 for second place and 32 for third.
“This event is worth a championship,” admitted Al-Mutaiwei, who drives an X-raid-built Mini All4 Racing – the car that won the 2012 Dakar Rally in the hands of Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel.
“It is the last event before the final Baja round in Portugal in November, but it is a cross-country event and not a Baja and, therefore, it is worth double points. It will be the first time for me to compete in Egypt. I have never gone through this event in the past, but I am mindful that Jean-Louis Schlesser has a vast experience of rallies in Egypt and he has won here many times.
“I will try my best to finish ahead of him in order to keep my lead in the FIA World Cup. I have the experience of the desert and I shall take full advantage of that. I shall rely on the car, my team, my co-driver Andreas and luck to be on my side.”
In addition to lining up against arch rival Jean-Louis Schlesser, Al-Mutaiwei faces a strong line-up of the FIA World Cup’s leading drivers, including the Russian G-Force Proto duo of Boris Gadasin and Vladimir Vasilyev, Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal (H3 Proto), Frenchman Patrick Sireyol (SMG Buggy) and the talented and experienced Japanese driver Jun Mitsuhashi in a Toyota.
After scrutineering in Cairo on Saturday (September 29th) and Sunday (September 30th), the event gets underway with the first of six desert special stages between Cairo and Tibniya on Monday, October 1st.
Crews will tackle a desert loop stage around the Tibniya bivouac next Tuesday and then the route heads from Tibniya to Abu Mingar on Wednesday. The fourth stage is a loop section around Abu Mingar on Thursday, October 4th and the penultimate special forges its way across the desert towards Tibniya on Friday, October 5th.
The final stage on Saturday, October 6th heads from Tibniya to Cairo, where the podium finish will take place in the afternoon.