The reigning World Champion triumphs at home race, South African Leeroy Pouler claims an impressive third place at his debut in a Middle East rally raid.
Overdrive Racing and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah returned to winning ways to claim a hard-earned victory in the Qatar Cross-Country Rally, round four of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which finished at Losail on Saturday.
After leading on day one, Al-Attiyah and Baumel hit technical trouble on the second of five stages and were forced to climb back from sixth place. The Toyota Hilux crew ran without making any major mistakes through the final desert section to reach the finish 7min 02sec in front of Poland’s Jakub Przygonski.
“Today we tried to take care,” said Al-Attiyah after the last stage. “We had a few problems. We try to fix and continue and then, in the last part, in the dunes, we have a puncture and we don’t have the jack working. We put the car on a small hill and we change it and it takes around four minutes. After that, we did good navigation and we catch everybody. It was important to win here. Everybody had some small problems today but this is a good result for my championship and it’s always nice to win at home.”
Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa’s Leeroy Poulter has never competed in the Middle East before. He and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz produced an impressive display to finish third and just missed out on second place on an event that featured difficult navigation and varied desert terrain held in extremely windy conditions and inclement temperatures.
“We had a good day and it’s capped a great week to be honest,” said Poulter. “We opened the road all day on the last stage. That was quite tough. In the dunes at the end we reversed back in one place and got stuck on some camel grass. It cost us a couple of minutes but, all in all, it was good. Dirk and I are working together for the first time and that worked well.”
The Dutch crew of Erik Van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar produced another solid performance in the second of the Overdrive Racing cars to finish sixth overall, despite a series of flat tyres Aron Domzala and Szymon Gospodarczyk bounced back from their recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge disappointment to reach Losail in ninth, although the crew struggled at times with the navigation and lost a lot of time.
“We did not start so well with a small problem for Nasser on the first day,” said Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin. “But I thank the team because we made a great recovery. It is not easy to discover new stages yesterday and today. Matthieu (Baumel) was cautious and taking it easy. But we are back in the game with 60 points.”
Overdrive Racing will be back to action from 20 to 27 May in the inaugural edition of Rally Kazakhstan, fifth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
Source: Overdrive Racing