Attiyah hopes to win for Toyota Hilux
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK
DOHA QATARI rally ace Nasser bin Saleh al Attiyah, who crashed a car during the testing on Sunday, is banking on a winning start at the wheel of Toyota Hilux in the Sealine Cross-Country Rally next week to have a longer association with the Belgian Overdrive Racing team.
With Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz Senra, 2011 Dakar Rally champion Attiyah is one of the three drivers that Overdrive Racing is fielding in a bid to continue its good results in the recent past. Other two drivers are Qatari Faisal al Attiya (French co-driver Matthieu Baumel) and Argentine Lucio Alvarez (French co-driver Ronnie Graue).
At the Toyota Towers, Qatari dealer Abdullah Abdulghani & Bros Co. presented the entire team along with Jean-Marc Fortin (Team Principal). All of them were presented with bouquet.
Speaking on the occasion, AAB Sales and Marketing Director K Murugan said: “We at Abdullah Abdulghani & Bros Co. are happy to support the Overdrive Racing team for all their logistics requirements in Qatar. We take this opportunity to wish the team members all the best and we’re confident that the Overdrive Racing Team will come out as the winners.” “I have tested this car before and I tested it even today.
Unfortunately, I broke one car but it is really very strong. I’m looking forward to good results at my home rally,” Attiyah commented when asked about the new car.
Attiyah is the defending champion of the Qatar Baja title.
“This is the first time that I’d be using Toyota Hilux in a rally. I’ve a strong Overdrive Racing Team backing me. It has already produced good results in the past and I hope to deliver what the team expects me to do at the home rally.” The Qatari driver had won the Dakar Rally in 2011 in Volkswagen’s Race Touareg. But this year, he struck a last-minute deal with Hummer to defend the crown. But due to mechanical failures, he had to quit the race midway and he returned home to create a world record in the skeet shooting, qualifying for the upcoming London Olympics.
Attiyah, who is having a busy schedule this year due to WRC, FIA MERC and Olympic Games duties, also said Toyota Hilux is a good option and he may go to the Dakar Rally next year with the same Belgian team.
“If everything goes well, I’ll like to race in the 2013 Dakar Rally in Toyota Hilux. But at the moment, I’ve to focus on the Sealine challenge and my aim is to become the winner here. The knowledge of the Qatari terrains would be an obvious advantage to me and I’d also like to see all the three Overdrive Racing cars among the top five in this round,” Attiyah added.
In the meantime, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) is all set to host its largest ever off-road motor sport event this week. The rally will take place over five days in the Qatar desert, with the action centralised around a large bivouac and service park, near the Sealine Beach Resort, south of Doha.
The world’s leading drivers and riders in both the FIM and FIA Cross-Country Rally World Championships have been attending pre-event administration checks at the Losail International Circuit.
Qatar’s Adel Hussein Abdullah won the quad category at the Qatar Baja candidate event last November and is relishing this week’s challenge. “It’s fantastic that we have this event in Qatar and so many big names on the entry list,” enthused the KTM 525 quad rider. “It is going to be a great challenge for me to win again this week but I will do my best.” Attiyah is seeded at three for the Sealine event behind Jean- Louis Schlesser and Khalifa al Mutaiwei.
“It will not be easy. Jean-Louis has made a good start to his bid to win the World Cup again, Khalifa has shown good speed since his return to racing and Yazeed (al Rajhi) won the recent rally in Saudi Arabia and is full of confidence.” Schlesser, driving a Team Sonangol Buggy, leads the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies by 24 points after the opening two rounds in Italy and the UAE. The two-time Dakar winner (72 points) is the most experienced of the racers on the entry list, but knows that a good result for Mutaiwei (48 points) would completely change the championship points’ situation.
On Monday, entrants will assemble at the Corniche in Doha for the ceremonial start, with the first motorcycle set to cross the podium at 15.00hrs.
The new Sealine Cross-Country Rally is the most ambitious offroad event ever staged by the QMMF. Over four punishing special stages between Wednesday and Saturday, motorcycle, car and quad teams will tackle a total of 1,227.64km of varied competitive action in a compact route of 1,323.23km.
The on-stage competition gets underway for the motorcycles and quads with a 4.2km timed super special stage, near the Sealine Beach Resort, at 13.00hrs on Tuesday (April 17). The first car will tackle the special from 13.40hrs.
22001122 FIAA WWorrld CCupp DDrrivveerrs’ CChhammppionshhipp –– ppositions afteerr rround 22:: 1. Jean Louis Schlesser (FRA) 72 pts 2. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei (UAE) 48 pts 3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 34 pts 3. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE) 34 pts 5. Patrick Sireyjol (FRA) 32 pts 6. Peter van Merksteijn (NLD) 21 pts 6. Ilya Kusnetsov (RUS) 21 pts 8. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) 18 pts 9. Bogdan Novytskyi (UKR) 16 pts 9. Matar Al-Mansoori (UAE) 16 pts, etc.