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VICTORY FOR AL ATTIYAH / BAUMEL IN QATAR, ROUND 1 OF THE FIA’S WORLD CUP
27 Feb 2019
Toyota South Africa
Toyota South Africa
1st overall for Al Attiyah/Baumel
2nd overall for Alrajhi/Gottschalk
6th overall for Ten Brinke/Colsoul
DOHA, QATAR – Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel continued their winning ways, when they posted the 3rd-fastest time on the sixth and final stage of the 2019 Qatar Cross-Country Rally – doing enough to win the event by a margin of 11:10.
The pair are fresh from their victory in South America, where they drove a South African-built Toyota Hilux to the top step of the podium on the world’s toughest automotive race, the Dakar Rally. Now, they’ve taken the same car to the top spot in Qatar, drawing first blood in the FIA’s World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
“This is my sixth win since the Qatar event became part of the FIA’s calendar, and a fifth win for Mathieu,” said an overjoyed Al Attiyah after bringing the Toyota Hilux home to the bivouac in the Qatari capital of Doha. “It is always nice to win my home race, but this is also a great start to our World Cup campaign.”
The Qatar Cross-Country Rally was Round 1 of the FIA’s revamped World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which is made up of only 5 marathon type events. The other races on the calendar are the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (30 March – 4 April); the Turkmen Desert Race (5 -11 May); Rally Kazakhstan (26 May – 1 June); and the Rally of Morocco (4 – 8 October).
With a win under the belt on Round 1, Al Attiyah/Baumel look set to challenge for victory throughout the season and will be aiming to retake the Cup they last held in 2017.
The Qatar Cross-Country Rally was an up-and-down affair for Al Attiyah/Baumel’s Toyota Gazoo Racing SA teammates, Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke and Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul. The pair started strong, but then lost just over two hours due to punctures on Stage 2. The following stage saw them claw back some time, only to lose it again due to a navigational error.
In the end, Ten Brinke/Colsoul finished in 6th place overall, some 2:57:34 behind the winners. Even so, the Dutchman was upbeat at the finish: “For sure, this isn’t the result we had wanted. But to finish in sixth after the days we had on stages 2 and 3 is pretty good, and we set some very good stage times towards the end.”
It was a different fortune for fellow-Toyota Hilux driver Yazeed Alrajhi. The Saudi driver and his German navigator, Dirk von Zitzewitz, never faltered throughout the event, though they had the MINI crew of Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk breathing down their necks.
Przygonski (Poland) won Stage 6 over Alrajhi by 2:28, bringing the gap between them at the finish down to just 46 seconds – in the favor of the Toyota Hilux crew. This meant that Al Attiyah/Baumel took the victory, with Alrajhi/Von Zitzewitz in second place. Przygonski/Gottschalk rounded out the podium.
In a cruel twist, however, the stewards disqualified the MINI crew after their car was found to be underweight at the post-race scrutineering session. This promoted Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev and navigator KJonstantin Zhiltsov (BMW X3) to third place.
“We are overjoyed to see two of our South African Toyota Hilux race cars in first and second place,” said an elated Glyn Hall, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA, after the results were confirmed. “Of course, it is a pity that Bernhard had some problems with punctures, otherwise there may well have been three of our cars on the podium. This just confirms what we saw at Dakar: The Toyota Hilux is an unbelievable car, with exceptional reliability and more than enough pace over rough terrain.”
The Qatar Cross-Country Rally comprised six stages, covering a total race distance of 1,400 km. The race HQ and bivouac were based in the capital, Doha, where the race also drew to a close on February 26th, 2019. Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s South African crew was on site throughout the race, in order to prepare and service the vehicles, and it was fitting that they share in Al Attiyah/Baumel’s continued success.
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