(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha, Qatar: Overdrive Racing has just finished its most successful ever season. The Belgian car preparation company and Toyota Gazoo Racing won the Dakar Rally, the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) for a second successive year and the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas again.
A third Dakar victory in five seasons preceded a clean sweep of wins in each of the subsequent four rounds of the W2RC, outright Baja victories in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Italy and Spain, a European win at the Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura and regional event victories around the world. The successes proved the competitiveness of the Toyota Hilux and the latest T1+ versions of the GR DKR Hilux.
Jean-Marc Fortin, team principal of Overdrive Racing, said:“More than successful. I think we should try to do it again and it will never happen. I tell you, when you win the five W2RC rounds and finish 1-2-3 in the championship. We also win plenty of other races. I think we won 17 since the beginning of 2023. It's a big thank you to the whole team. They work like mad, we work like mad. Toyota is a strong car and Overdrive is the winning team – unbelievable! I think we write something special in the company history and I'm very happy.”
Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and his Andorra-based co-driver Mathieu Baumel enjoyed a record-breaking season of their own. The Qatari won the Dakar for a fifth time and then sealed personal triumphs in the Sonora Rally in Mexico and Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina on his way to a second WRC2 Drivers' Championship. Baumel clinched the Co-drivers' Championship with one round in hand.
Capping a stunning season for Overdrive Racing in the sport's flagship championship, Yazeed Al-Rajhi and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Rally of Morocco and finished second and third in Mexico and Argentina on their way to the runner-up spots in the Drivers' and Co-drivers' championships.
Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel were victorious in Mexico.
Argentina's Juan-Cruz Yacopini andhis Spanish co-driver Daniel Oliveras crewed a third Overdrive Racing Toyota to the final step on the W2RC podium with a second, a third, two fourths and a fifth-place finish. Toyota Gazoo Racing also dominated the W2RC Manufacturers' Championship and won the title with a round to spare.
Not content with winning the W2RC for a second time, Al-Attiyah and Baumel also dominated the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. The duo won Saudi Baja-Ha'il, the Qatar International Baja and Spain's Baja Aragón and finished second at the Italian Baja to Al Rajhi and Gottschalk on their way to the title. Al Rajhi and Gottschalk finished second in the Drivers' and Co-drivers' Championships with that win in Italy and second places in Portugal and Dubai. Overdrive Racing also won the Teams' Championship.
In addition, the Portuguese duo of Tiago Reis and Valder Cardosa earned a comfortable win at Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura, the opening round of the 2023 FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, in an Overdrive Racing-supported Toyota Hilux. Theywere also runners-up in Portugal's Baja TT Sharish Reguengos Mourão.
Al Rajhi and Gottschalk also claimed outright victories in a Hilux at the Tabuk-NEOM and Rally Qassim rounds of the Saudi Toyota Championship, as the Saudi looks to retain his title with one round to run in mid-December in Jeddah.
Overdrive Racing machines also delivered superb individual event performances. Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov finished as runners-up in Qatar and the Rally of Morocco.
Before agreeing terms with Toyota Gazoo Racing to represent the official team at the 2024 Dakar Rally, Brazilian driver Lucas Moraes guided an Overdrive Racing Toyota to second overall at Baja Spain Aragón and a podium finish at the Dakar, before shadowing Al Rajhi to the finish of last weekend's Rally Qassim in Saudi Arabia.
Eugenio Amos also performed well and the Italian was classified in fourth at Desafio Ruta 40 and fifth in Morocco.
The main focus for the entire team is now the 2024 Dakar Rally, starting with a timed Prologue in Al Ula in the north of Saudi Arabia on January 5.
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