Double delight for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser & Mathieu in Abu Dhabi
Following their comprehensive victory on the opening day of the 30th edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel maintained their momentum with another outstanding performance in the second stage of the event – which is the penultimate leg of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. Driving their V8-powered Toyota Hilux, the pair once again dominated matters in the desert of the United Arab Emirates to continue their quest to capture their first Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge title since 2016.
The second stage promised to be the longest of the five-stage rally, with competitors taking on a timed distance of 332km – consisting of undulating sandy terrain before being welcomed by dunes, dunes and more dunes. It was a playground perfectly suited for Nasser, and the ‘King of the Dunes’ once again delivered, as he and Mathieu navigated the landscape tremendously well.
Having won the first stage, the pair had the difficult task of opening the route on Monday, and while the responsibility proved challenging at first, as they posted the fourth-fastest time at the first waypoint, the Qatari Olympic medalist and his French co-driver quickly got to grips with their surroundings as they obliterated the gap between themselves and the leaders.
They were quickest at waypoints two and three, and when they reached the finish, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing duo had posted another fantastic time of 4hr 33min 09sec, finishing over three minutes faster than Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk, who again were the front-runners’ closest challengers.
Their second consecutive stage win in Abu Dhabi means that Nasser and Mathieu have extended their overall lead over second-placed Przygonski and Gottschalk to 6min 07sec, but with three stages remaining, there is still a lot of racing to come.
While Tuesday’s third stage is slightly shorter, it remains an arduous trek as competitors will travel a timed distance of 294km, making it the second-longest leg of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which, including liaisons, totals almost 2,000km in length.
STAGE 2 RESULTS:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel Toyota Hilux (TGR) 4hr 33min 09sec
2. Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk MINI +3min 07sec
3. Lucio Alvarez/Armand Monleon Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) +9min 42sec
4. Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) +17min 43sec
5. Denis Krotov/Konstantin Zhiltsov MINI +44min 42sec
STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 2:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel Toyota Hilux (TGR) 7hr 55min 16sec
2. Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk MINI +6min 07sec
3. Lucio Alvarez/Armand Monleon Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) +16min 53sec
4. Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) +25min 40sec
5. Denis Krotov/Konstantin Zhiltsov MINI +53min 40sec
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“It was a really long stage, and it certainly wasn’t easy for Nasser and Mathieu to be in the car for over four hours. If they can maintain this performance every day things will be perfect, although we’d feel more comfortable with a bigger lead. That said, being six minutes clear is a great place to be after day two.”
“It was a good stage. It was much longer than yesterday and a lot harder, while my body took a lot of knocks. We are very happy to have finished while extending our lead and hope to deliver drives like this for the remainder of the rally.”
“We were far more conservative during the first part of the stage, but once we reached the big dunes and soft sand, we pushed it a lot more and pulled away from our rivals. The Hilux is in great condition, and with three more stages to go we’ll look to maintain this pace.”