Sunday, 05 December 2021 05:35 GMT

Qatar - Al-Attiyah closes in on FIA World Cup with victory in Abu Dhabi

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Qatar's Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah moved to within touching distance of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies Drivers' Championship with a dominant third career victory at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challengeon Thursday.
Partnered by Frenchman Matthieu Baumel, the Qatari won the first four of the five selective sections through the UAE's Empty Quarter and was able to ease his pace on the final timed test to confirm victory by the margin of 21min 12sec in his Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux.
Fastest on each of the four previous stages, al-Attiyah was content with a third best time yesterday as Alvarez took the honours and keep his slim title hopes alive. Russia's Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov in a Mini John Cooper Works Buggy secured the other podium place. The Qatari must now wait until next month's final round in Saudi Arabia to clinch the FIA World Cup drivers' title.
A jubilant al-Attiyah said at the finish:“It's quite an amazing feeling to win this race for the third time. It was not easy, so that makes winning even better for me. One thing I have learned is that if you want to win, you need to work very hard – everybody, the crew, the team. Only then will you get results like this.”
Al-Attiyah's co-driver Baumel said:“Some nice sandy tracks and dunes. Easy drive through the dunes for Nasser and nice navigation. For the navigator, you don't have too much trouble here because every five or six kilometres you have a waypoint and you can't really make a big mistake. I have one victory at this race and Nasser got two, but we didn't compete here for the last four years and one time we were leading by far (2017) but had a crash on the last day.”
Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr had hoped to be battling it out for the championship, but a drive shaft breakage cost them dearly and al-Rajhi fought back to finish in fourth.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge produced world champions at the double. Finishing sixth overall, American Austin Jones and Brazilian co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin secured their FIA T4 crown with a convincing win in the category in a CAN-AM Maverick.
Spain's Cristina Gutierrez and Frenchman François Cazalet in an Overdrive OT3 are FIA T3 champions after finishing runners up to Saudi Arabia's Saleh Alsaif and Russian co-driver Egor Okhotikov who were comfortable winners in another CAN-AM Maverick.
New FIM RallyGP champion Walkner on a KTM claimed the bikes crown by 4 mins 31.8 secs from Adrien Van Beveren, despite the Frenchman winning the 162.94km Yas Marina Circuit stage for his third fastest time. Portugal's Joaquim Rodrigues on a Hero took the other podium place.
Walkner was equally elated:“Finally, this was a really good rally,” he said.“I survived it to the finish line and I am super happy with this incredible win here. The team has done an amazing job and it is cool to win the last race of the season. Winning my first world title also gives me a lot of confidence. But it was also very important to finish this race well and then look to the challenges ahead.”
UAE's Abdulaziz Ahli won the quads title by a huge margin from Poland's multiple world champion Rafal Sonik, and Argentina's Manuel Andujar who had led for three days.

Final results
1. Nasser al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel (QAT/ AND) / Toyota Hilux 17:45:58.0; 2. Lucio Alvarez / Armand Monleon (ARG / SPA) / Toyota Hilux Overdrive 18:07:00.0; 3. Denis Krotov / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS / RUS) / Mini John Cooper Works Bugg 19:00:21.0; 4. Yazeed Al Rajhi/ Michael Orr (SAU / GBR) / Toyota Hilux Overdrive 19:02:40.0; 5. Sebastian Halpern / Bernardo Graue (ARG / ARG) / Mini John Cooper Works Buggy 19:28:32.0; 6. Austin Jones / Gustavo Gugelmin (USA / BRA) / BRP CAN-AM Maverick 19:29:24.0; 7. Marek Goczal / Lukasz LASKAWIEC (POL / POL) / BRP CAN-AM Maverick 19:41:02.0;
8. Aron Domzala / Maciejk Marton (POL / POL) / BRP CAN-AM Maverick 19:45:16.0; 9. Mansour al-Helei / Abdulla Dakhan (ARE / ARE) / BRP CAN-AM Maverick 20:09:18.0; 10 Saleh Alsaif / Egor Okhotikov (SAU / RUS) / BRP CAN-AM Maverick 20:11:42.0


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