Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah followed up his stunning victory at the Dakar Rally with a start-to-finish success in the Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally, the opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, on Tuesday.
The Qatari and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel guided their Toyota Hilux to a winning margin of 11min 10sec to confirm a sixth victory for the driver in the eight years that the event has been a round of the FIA series. Al-Attiyah also won the candidate event when it was called the Qatar International Baja in 2011. This win was Baumel’s fifth.
“I am quite happy to win my rally in Qatar seven times. This is nice for the championship. I took it easy this morning with no risks. We did a good gap over the last four days and we just needed to finish without any problems.”
Baumel added: “It’s never easy in Qatar, but one of the big differences is Nasser’s experience and knowledge here. He knows very quickly to choose the direction. It’s a very satisfying win, especially for Nasser, Qatar and the start of our championship.”
Despite pressure on some stages from Yazeed Al-Rajhi and defending champion Jakub Przygonski, Al-Attiyah was able to manage his pace and preserve the Toyota. Al-Rajhi and Dirk von Zitzewitz began the day 12min 33sec behind their Toyota team-mates in second place and fought off a fierce last stage challenge from Przygonski to seal second place on the podium by just 46 seconds, despite one puncture.
Przygonski’s defence of his FIA World Cup crown is still on solid ground after a professional showing to claim the final podium position with new German navigator Timo Gottschalk in the first of two X-raid MINI John Cooper Works Rally cars.
Gottschalk said: “Today was a big fight. In fact, the whole rally was a lot of good fights. It was not easy but I enjoyed working with Kuba and we look forward to the next rally. We managed to catch Yazeed. Then he got lost a bit and we overtake him and he pass us back again. Then he had a puncture, so it was a nice fight. No-one was giving up.”
Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov fought a lone battle in their BMW X3 CC and were rewarded with fourth place for a solid drive with few risks and only minor problems en route. “I am not happy with this result,” said Vasilyev, who finished second in 2018. “No problems, no punctures today. It was good.”
Yasir Seaidan and French navigator Laurent Lichtleuchter became more accustomed to their new MINI as the event progressed and finished fifth.
Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul recovered strongly from time lost earlier in the rally to finish sixth overall in the third Overdrive Toyota. “We may not complain about this result after day two and day three. This is not the result that we hoped for but, okay, six is okay and two times we were P2 on the stages. We are happy for now.”
Monster Energy Can-Am driver Reinaldo Varela began the final day with a massive T3 lead of 2hrs 36min 10sec over Russian Fedor Vorobeyev and the Brazilian cruised through the final kilometres to record the win and finish seventh in the overall standings. Vorobeyev reduced the eventual winning margin to 2hrs 33min 12sec on his way to a fine eighth in his South Racing Can-Am.
Italian female driver Camelia Liparoti was the last competitor to finish the event without massive time penalties and the plucky Yamaha driver and her French co-driver Max Delfino were rewarded with a stunning ninth place and third in T3.
A third successive T3 stage win fell to Qatar’s Adel Abdulla and navigator Marc Serra, but water in the fuel had cost them any chance of fighting for the win earlier in the week.
Italy’s Eugenio Amos and French co-driver Sebastien Delaunay missed one day because of the driver feeling unwell, but the Ford 2WD Buggy crew bounced back to round off the top 10.
Mohammed Al-Meer reached the finish to claim T2 honours in his Nissan Patrol and Ibrahim Al-Muhanna persevered at the rear of the field with his Mercedes Unimog to claim T4 honours on a truck’s first participation in the event.
The final stage of 263.80km utilised three passage controls at 14.03km, 139.13km and 203.68km. It started east of Dukhan and headed in a northerly direction up the western Qatar coast to a PC at Musaykah before crossing the northern deserts to a final checkpoint north of Al-Ghariyah, on the north-eastern coast, before passing down the eastern extremities of the country to finish north of Sidriyat Al-Kheesah.
National competitors ran as far as PC2 and this stage counted as the sixth and final round of the Qatar Manateq National Baja Championship.
Adel Abdulla and Spanish co-driver Marc Serra claimed outright victory in a Can-Am Maverick X3 with a time of 1hr 35min 26sec. Mohammed Al-Attiyah and Sergio Lafuente were second and Ahmed Al-Kuwari and Manuel Lecchese rounded off the top three.
Numerous additional time penalties were handed to competitors on Monday evening for missing different sections of the route. The top nine remained unchanged, but the likes of Mohammed Al-Meer and Khalid Al-Mohannadi were declared OTL on leg four and additional penalties were also imposed on Ibrahim Al-Muhanna and Mohammed Al-Attiyah.
Only nine of the original 22 FIA entrants were running without at least 100 hours of penalties. Mohammed Al-Harqan retired from the T2 battle at the end of leg four.
2019 Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally – positions on SS6 (unofficial @ 12.00hrs)
1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 2hrs 24min 53sec
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 2hrs 27min 21sec
3. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 2hrs 28min 44sec
4. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) BMW X3 CC 2hrs 33min 46sec
5. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 2hrs 35min 19sec
6. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 2hrs 38min 14sec
2019 Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS6 (unofficial @ 15.20hrs)
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 13hrs 18min 44sec
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 13hrs 29min 54sec
3. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 13hrs 30min 40sec
4. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) BMW X3 CC 14hrs 14min 32sec
5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 14hrs 52min 42sec
6. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 16hrs 16min 18sec
7. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am Maverick T3 19hrs 14min 08sec
8. Fedor Vorobeyev (RUS)/Kirill Shubin (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3 T3 21hrs 47min 20sec
9. Camelia Liparoti (ITA)/Max Delfino (FRA) Yamaha YZX 1000 R T3 23hrs 05min 26sec
10. Eugenio Amos (ITA)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Ford 2WD Buggy 111hrs 09min 38sec
11. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F150 Evo 111hrs 54min 56sec
12. Abdullah Al-Zubair (OMN)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick T3 114hrs 32min 26sec
13. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Marc Serra (ESP) Can-Am Maverick T3 115hrs 01min 00sec
14. Khalid Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RZR 1000 T3 116hrs 23min 19sec
15. Mohammed Al-Meer (QAT)/Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Land Cruiser T2 117hrs 09min 03sec
16. Michele Cinotto (ITA)/Maurizio Dominella (ITA) Polaris RZR 1000 T T3 117hrs 48min 05sec
17. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Mercedes Unimog T4 119hrs 30min 24sec
18. Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Manuel Lucchese (ITA) Can-Am Maverick X3 T3 119hrs 35min 07sec
19. Mohammed Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick T3 209hrs 01min 46sec
20. Rashed Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Ahmed Al-Fares (KWT) Polaris RZR 1000 T3 215hrs 08min 06sec
2019 Qatar Manateq Baja – round 3 (unofficial @ 13.00hrs)
1. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Marc Serra (ESP) Can-Am Maverick T3 1hr 35min 36sec
2. Mohammed Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick T3 1hr 40min 25sec
3. Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Manuel Lucchese (ITA) Can-Am Maverick X3 1hr 50min 30sec
4. Khalid Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RZR 1000 T3 1hr 51min 41sec
Source: Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally press release