Monday 30 April 2012
Schlesser and his Russian co-driver, Konstantin Zhilstov, completed the final SS4 stage in 1 hour, 56 minutes, 32 seconds – three minutes behind stage winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah and second-place driver, Vladimir Vasilyev.
Third place on the podium meant Schlesser and his Cooper Tire-backed Sonangol Race Team finished the rally in fourth place overall, collecting a haul of points keeping them at the top of the championship standings at the end of the Doha-based event.
The Frenchman now leads the official FIA driver rankings by 16 points, having previously taken overall victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and a fourth place at the opening Italian Baja round. The Sonangol Race Team also leads the manufacturer’s championship by 15 points and the Two-Wheel Drive Trophy by 59 points.
Ex-Formula 1 driver and endurance rally veteran, Schlesser, was quick to praise his Cooper Discoverer STT tyres after crossing the finish line. “Every day, we had to drive carefully and avoid punctures,” he said. “But I am very satisfied with the overall result, as we strengthen our leading position in the World Cup and also the Two-Wheel Drive Trophy.”
Once again, the Cooper Discoverer STT proved a key element to the team’s strong result. The desert terrain was comprised of similar sand dunes to the previous round in Abu Dhabi, although more stones and rocks covered the route. With an aggressive tread pattern, the tyres helped keep the two-wheel drive Sonangol buggy above the sand at high speed and also benefitted from tapered stone ejectors, designed to prevent stones and debris lodging in the tyre, keeping them clear and maintaining traction.
The next round of the FIA World Cup Cross-Country Rallies Championship will take place in July, where the teams will take on the dramatic landscape of the Spanish countryside for the Baja Aragon.