(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Ace Qatar rally driver Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel continued their dominating run at the Rally of Morocco yesterday finishing on top after the third stage of the seven-day rally which ends tomorrow.
The experienced Toyota duo are headed towards their 6th victory in Rally of Morocco as they lead Yazeed al-Rajhi of Saudi Arabia by 13 minutes.
Yesterday, the 16-time Middle East Rally Champion and four times winner of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, al-Attiyah along with Baumel began the fifth day in their Toyota Hilux opening the cars' competition of Stage 3 of 630km (Super Stage 330km) with less sand and requiring more navigational skills.
Al-Attiyah finished on top (3:29:31secs), 27 seconds ahead of Polish Jakub Przygonski (3:29:58) and with al-Rajhi third at 2'42” (3:32:13). Al-Rajhi at one point was leading, just 57 seconds ahead of al-Attiyah but the Qatari veteran closed in on the gap before surging ahead towards the end.
The third leg consisted of a small erg to cross. A stage almost without sand, designed to relieve the pressure of the two previous days. The route stretched over Morocco's famous stony tracks followed by beautiful and sumptuous landscapes of the Tassilis region.
Rally of Morocco is billed as a kind of test run for the historic Dakar Rally, but it's part of both the FIA Cross Country World Cup and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship. The route covers nearly a total 1,666 miles of the Moroccan Sahara Desert and is being run by teams of drivers and riders from motorsport giants like Toyota Gazoo and Honda Racing among many, many others.
This rally is actually one of the major trials for Gazoo Racing's reworked Hilux. The famous Toyota truck gets beefier running gear, per GR, and goes from 32 inch to 37 inch tires. More importantly, the Hilux is also getting the new 3.5-liter twin turbo V6 developed for the 300-Series Land Cruiser.
That engine already makes 409 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque in the road-going Land Cruiser, but it's going to make much more than that in race trim at the Rally of Morocco. And as if the formidable new Hilux wasn't enough, Toyota's team boasts three consecutive FIA World Cup victories.
Results (FIA After Stage 3)
1. Nasser al-Attiyah, Time: 03:29:31
2. J. Przygonski; 03:29:58
3. Y. Al-Rajhi; 03:32:13
4. M. Serradori; 03:35:44
5. S. Halpern; 03:41:38
6. L. Alvarez; 03:42:12
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