Abdullah Abdulghani & Bros (AAB), Toyota’s exclusive dealer in Qatar, and Overdrive Racing, a Belgium-based international racing logistics and vehicle modification company, yesterday announced that Toyota was the single-largest entry brand in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup as four race teams rev up for the Qatar Sealine Rally instalment scheduled for April 23 to 26.
“This international off-road racing event has four race teams from across the world representing Toyota as a brand and all are competing in Toyota Hilux models with heavy modifications,” said Overdrive team manager Scott Abraham.
AAB has provided the challenging teams with all logistical support, including on-road transportation vehicles for their stay in Qatar. “They (AAB) have taken on huge responsibilities and have made our work so much easier,” said Abraham.
“We are happy to support the Overdrive Racing team for all their logistical requirements in Qatar and are sure that they will win this year’s championship as they did last year,” said Nasser Abdulghani, AAB’s managing director.
The racing teams include driver Reinaldo Varela and and co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin of Brazil, Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Meneses of Venezuela, Martin Kaczmarski and Bartlomiej Boba of Poland and Kazakhstan driver Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Russian co-driver Vladimir Demiyanenko.
The only handicap for them is that last year’s winner, world champion Nasser al-Attiyah, is representing Red Bull in an unbranded prototype vehicle.
“He’s the best in the world and while everyone wants to take first, I think it’ll be realistic if we make one or two cars to the 10-car podium line-up as champions among the 42 competing teams,” said Abraham.
The Toyota drivers are confident with the level of risk Qatar’s outback is providing as their racetrack. “We’ll be driving around 80% on gravel and 20% on dunes - where the real risk lies. But I’ve raced in Abu Dhabi and by comparison, the dunes here are softer and aren’t as high,” said Venezuelan racer Coffaro, president of Team Azimut.
The drivers will be racing 3.5-5 hours and crossing around 500km a day over graveled roads and sand dunes, reaching speeds of around 185kmph. This, according to Abraham, is like driving at 300kmph on smooth asphalt.
“Driving cross-country is totally different from driving in a professional circuit, where you know where every turn is. In championships like these, you are maneuvering a sharp turn and jumping, and you don’t have the chance to learn the route before you race on it,” he explained. “In these races, it’s impossible to predict the outcome and who is going to win. Someone can get stuck in a ditch or sand dune, or the car may roll over. That’s the risk and excitement of the sport.”
Cross-country racing in Qatar started in 2005 with the Qatar Baja, a 500km race. Abraham said that with the accomplishments of al-Attiyah, who is also vice-president of the International Motorcycle Federation and President of the Cross-Country World Commission, and holds dozens of victories, including at the largest international race - the Dakar Rally (2011), Qatar is seen as a well-represented brand in the world of racing.
Follow us on our social media channels: