MOTORSPORT NEWS OFF ROAD

Al-Attiyah gives Overdrive and Toyota sixth win

Overdrive Racing’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah confirmed his dominance of the 2016 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies with an emphatic start-to-finish victory in the punishing six-day OiLibya Rally of Morocco yesterday.
Nasser Al-Attiyah
Nasser Al-Attiyah

The Qatari drove one of five Toyota Hiluxes entered by the Belgian car preparation company on the most difficult event of its kind in Africa and Joan Roma, Ronan Chabot and Khalifa Saleh al-Attiyah brought three of the other four cars home in sixth, seventh and 14th positions.
Al-Attiyah and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel reached the finish in Erfoud with a comfortable winning margin of 12min 08sec over former Dakar winner Carlos Sainz to confirm their sixth successive victory in the FIA World Cup since joining Overdrive Racing in March.
The Qatari has completely dominated every event in which he has competed and the Morocco win followed remarkable successes for the Toyota Hilux in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Italy, Spain and Poland – shooting commitments at the Rio Olympics forced him to miss the Baja in Hungary in August.
Roma and fellow Spanish navigator Alex Haro belied their lack of experience with an Overdrive Racing Toyota to steer their V8-engined car into contention for the final podium place until they hit transmission problems on the final stage and dropped three places to sixth.
Frenchman Ronan Chabot and his navigator Gilles Pillot set some excellent stage times on their way to an encouraging seventh place in the third Toyota. Al-Attiyah’s brother Khalifa Saleh and Belgian co-driver Stephane Prevot finished 14th in the QMMF-backed Toyota after losing time on the fourth stage.
Dutchman Erik van Loon and co-driver Wouter Rosegaar were well placed inside the top 10 before crashing the fifth Toyota on the third stage on Wednesday. They completed the timed special and failed to start the penultimate stage.

Carlos Sainz
Carlos Sainz

“Every day we have been opening the road and it has not been easy, but today was a good position for us and we tried to push,” said al-Attiyah. “We had a good speed in the dunes and we caught Carlos there.”
Al-Attiyah made the perfect start to his Moroccan challenge on the tight and twisty Prologue stage of seven kilometres. The Qatari clocked the fastest time of 4min 41sec to snatch a 13-second lead over Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen. Roma moved into third place in a second Toyota and Van Loon, Chabot and Khalifa al-Attiyah were 11th, 12th and 17th.
Al-Attiyah opted to start the first of the desert stages from fifth position on the road and the Qatari carded the quickest time of 48min 56sec in the opener to extend his outright lead over Hirvonen to 41 seconds. Roma, Van Loon, Chabot and Khalifa al-Attiyah held fifth, seventh, 17th and 20th.
Al-Attiyah also won the second part of the special to take a lead of 1min 07sec into the overnight halt. Roma and Van Loon held third and sixth and Chabot and Khalifa al-Attiyah were 13th and 16th.
Accurate navigation and another fastest time on the demanding second selective section, which also featured a series of dune crossings near the finish, enabled al-Attiyah to extend his outright lead over Yazeed al-Rajhi to 14min 31sec.
Carlos Sainz won the third desert stage of 291km, but al-Attiyah maintained an outright lead of 11min 07sec heading towards the overnight halt and the planned fourth special of 319km.
The fourth selective section of 319km formed a loop stage through the deserts around Erfoud and al-Attiyah extended his outright lead to 16min 44sec after winning the section by 2min 54sec.
The final selective section ran for 230km and crossed the notorious Erg Chebbi en route to the ceremonial finish in Erfoud. Al-Attiyah took no risks and reached the stage finish in 2hr 26in 25sec to confirm the victory by the winning margin of 12min 08sec in a crushing exhibition of professional driving.

Rally of Morocco final positions

1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 12hr 28min 28sec
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) Peugeot 3008 DKR 12hr 40min 36sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 04min 37sec
4. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Paolo Fiuza (PRT) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 12min 21sec
5. Jakub Przygo?ski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 38min 03sec
6. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 13hr 52min 41sec
7. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 14hr 14min 35sec
14. Khalifa al-Attiyah (QAT)/Stéphane Prevot (BEL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 16hr 48min 17sec