The UAE’s Mohammed Al Balooshi is on a roll, winning a second consecutive stage in the bikes category of the Pharaons Rally in Egypt yesterday which also widened the gap to his closest challenger, Poland’s Jakub Piatek, by over four minutes.
Putting behind him the mechanical problems that dogged him on the opening leg – a fuel leak that forced him to drop pace, but which did not prevent him from winning the stage – Balooshi became the first Emirati to win two consecutive stages of an FIM event.
Going into Leg 2, Balooshi continued to push to the limit with the knowledge that the previous day’s cooling system problem could well revisit him on the 457km test, so the Emirati mixed aggression with caution to ensure there were no more hic-cups.
His service crew apparently did an excellent job on his 2014 KTM Rally Replica, Balooshi bringing the bike home two minutes 35 seconds ahead of Piatek with Juan Salvatierra of Bolivia finishing three minutes 42 seconds further back in third.
— yahsat (@yahsatofficial) May 13, 2015
Balooshi now goes into the third day with a cushion of four minutes 01 seconds over Piatek with Salvatierra five minutes 24 seconds in third.
With three more days to go, the battle for the bikes title is now most certainly between Balooshi, Piatek and Salvatierra.
Two other potential challengers – the Italian duo of Andrea Gaggiani and Diocleziano Toia – are more than one hour off Balooshi’s pace.
But the Emirati is aware that the job is not done yet, saying: “Our plan is to keep working hard and stay focused until the end. It’s very important to build up the race; this is just the second day and it’s a long and hard rally.”
Piatek, who lies second overall, said: “For me everything is new and at every race I have to learn a lot.
“I rode with Balooshi and Salvatierra and we arrived together at the finish. I did not expect to be so fast, because Salvatierra and Balooshi have much more experience.”
Third placed Salvatierra though is unhappy with the regulations that determine the day’s start order, but has nevertheless vowed to push on.
He said: “Yesterday, I opened the track until the other riders caught up with me. I finished third and this made my life hard, because I can only choose the fourth position in the starting order of the next day.
“While the other riders start at the back they can easily catch up with me. With this regulation it’s very complicated for me to win the race, but I will fight until the end.”
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