Nissan rallying star Emil Kneisser continues to throw down the gauntlet to rivals in his first European campaign, holding second position in his category in the Cross Country FIA World Cup.
This follows the completion of the grueling three-day Baja Spain Aragon. Nissan’s Lebanese champ continues to snap at the wheels of the series leader. This is Kneisser’s first title at the European circuit but he has already shown he can mix it with the best – and then some.
Kneisser was lying a comfortable third on day one of the Spanish event but steering strife meant he had to take a measured approach to ensure he finished well up in the standings, which he did by taking out fourth spot in the T2 category. T2 comprises cross-country series production vehicles.
The Cross Country FIA World Cup is a global competition with a number of events around the world, such as the Spanish Baja and Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan, selected for the Cup and it culminates in a driver being crowned world champion.
Kneisser turned in a superb time of 2hr 53min 17sec in the final stage, nearly 10 minutes quicker than his main rival and it ensured he claimed the crucial fourth spot.
“It was a long and hard rally,” says Kneisser. “I achieved my target and am happy that I finished another European race. After the problems I had on Saturday, fourth place is more than perfect as a finish for me.
“The Nissan Patrol has again been very strong and reliable. The broken steering line we had could have happened to any car over this terrain. I have also strengthened my grip on second position in T2 and built a gap between me and third place. I have a good chance to win the championship, but I needed to finish here.”
Nissan Middle East managing director Samir Cherfan has hailed the latest European Baja achievement of Kneisser and the Patrol.
“Emil continues to show what an outstanding driver he is and this is reflected in his second placing in the standings. He is well placed to close the gap with the first place leader. Everyone at Nissan is on tenterhooks as Emil and the Patrol push for the series lead. We can’t wait for the next race in Hungary.”
Abu Dhabi-based Kneisser is only 22 points off the lead which sets up an intriguing showdown in the next race at Hungary’s Baja in August. There are three more rounds of the Cross Country FIA World Cup in Europe and one in Morocco, so Kneisser has time to take the lead and win the championship.
The European rallies are contested under different conditions to those Kneisser is used to in the Middle East but he and his Russian co-pilot Alex Komzic have proved to be right up to the challenge and they say the Patrol continues to live up to its name “Hero of all Terrains”.
Kneisser recently won the T2 in the Rally of the Pharoans in Egypt, one of the sport’s showpiece events and also part of the Cross Country FIA World Cup. He also has winner’s trophies from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan and the Sealine Cross-Country Rally of Qatar, both also part of the World Cup competition.
Nissan is keen to support Arab drivers and it further develops motor sport in the Middle East. Nissan is a major supporter of rallies and motor sport in general in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia’s Ha’il International Rally and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Emil Kneisser is Group Training & Product manager at Al Masaood Automobiles (Nissan’s dealership in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain) by day, but on weekends transforms into a well-known figure in rallies for both his love for racing and his vehicle building skills. His knowledge and expertise in Nissan vehicles has allowed him to realize the potential of the new Nissan Patrol Y62. Turning it into a winner in its first outing in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge POWERED by Nissan 2014 and followed shortly after by a victory in T2 category in 2014 Qatar Sealine Rally.
2015 Baja Spain Aragon – T2 final positions (unofficial):
1. Elvis Borsoi (ITA)/Stefano Rossi (ITA) Mitsubishi Pajero 10hr 25min 49sec
2. Denis Berezovskiy (KAZ)/Ignat Falkov (KAZ) Nissan Patrol 10hr 37min 41sec
3. Alberto Dorsch (ESP)/Marcos Martinez (ESP) Toyota Landcruiser 10hr 55min 55sec
4. Emil Khneisser (UAE)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Nissan Patrol 10hr 57min 23sec
5. Aldis Vilcans (LVA)/Vadim Shmayloc (RUS) Ford Raptor 11hr 04min 02sec
6. Carmine Salvi (ITA)/Lucio Salvi (ITA) Mitsubishi Pajero 11hr 12min 09sec
7. Jose Guillermo Villaneuva (ESP)/Santiago Bravo (ESP) Toyota Land Cruiser 11hr 14min 12sec
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies T2 – positions after round 6 (unofficial):
1. Denis Berezovskiy (KAZ) 139 pts
2. Emil Kneisser (UAE) 117 pts
3. Maxim Kurpilev (RUS) 102 pts
4. Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani (QAT) 88 pts
5. Mansour Al-Helai (UAE) 50 pts
5. Elvis Borsoi (ITA) 50 pts, etc