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Posted On: 28 February 2020 09:43 am
Updated On: 3 March 2020 12:01 pm

Nasser Al Attiyah wins Qatar cross-country rally for the 7th time!

Binu Cherian
Binu Cherian
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Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel sealed a comfortable victory in the five-day Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally (MQCCR), round one of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

Having last won the FIA World Cup title in 2017, the Qatari and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel knew the importance of a good start to the five-round series. They secured bonus points for winning four of the event's five selective sections to secure a winning margin of 1hr 31min 40sec, despite finishing the last stage with two flat tires.

Al Attiyah said: "We are quite happy to take this win. This was not an easy race with lots of navigation. Today we had three flat tires. It was not easy for the tires here. The last 50km, we lost the pressure in the tires and we reached the finish line with two punctures. But I won the stage and I lead the championship, so we are happy."

Poland's Jakub Przygonski and German navigator Timo Gottschalk battled back from a near two-hour time loss on day two to secure the final podium place on their first appearance together in a Toyota.

Broken steering and punctures had pushed the 2018 FIA World Cup champion down to the seventh position at the start of day three, but the Pole found an impressive rhythm for the remainder of the rally and reached the end of the last stage at Ash Shafallahiyah with the second quickest time, he too crossing the finish line with two flat tires.

"All three of us had the same problem before the finish, like 20 or 30km, when we lost the pattern (tread) of the tire," said Przygonski. "The tires were gone and we finished with flat tires and Nasser, the same. It was hard for the tires with a lot of stones and hard ground. We are pleased with this position after the problems. In the end, it was a good race for us. We learn the car and know what to do to be faster in this car."

Six T3 drivers were evenly matched on the stages and Khalid Al Mohannadi and Sebastien Delaunay had shown the most consistency in their Polaris RXR 1000. But two punctures on the final stage cost the Qatari crucial minutes and he plummeted to third in the category behind Ahmed Al Kuwari and Saleh Al Saif, his woes exacerbated when he had to drive 50km to the stage finish on a wheel rim. (MORE)

Al Kuwari and Italian co-driver Manual Luchesse were confirmed as winners by the margin of 10min 57sec, with the OT3 by Overdrive prototypes of Kees Koolen and Fedor Vorobyev coming home in fourth and fifth, the Dutchman being rewarded with the second quickest T3 time on the day. Vorobyev, however, wrecked the OT3s rear right suspension near the end and was forced to stop at the stage finish to make repairs with a time penalty knocking him down to 13th overall.

There were finishes down the leader board for Qatar's Mohamed Al Harqan in 10th, Rashid Al Mohannadi (11th), Mubarak Al Hajri (13th), and Mohamed Al Meer (brake problems 15th), with Al Hajri setting the fastest time on the day after problems last Sunday wrecked his chance of challenging for the outright T3 win.

Competitors taking part in the third round of the Manateq Qatar National Baja also tackled the first part of the sixth stage. The seven drivers who were eligible for both events continued to the finish of the longer stage to be classified in the FIA standings.

Victory on the day fell to Al Hajri in his FN Speed Can-Am from Saleh Al Saif and Ahmed Al Kuwari. Ahmed Allouh and Peruvian navigator Hctor Garcia Chavez were the best of the non-FIA runners in sixth place.

Source: QNA