Hat trick of stage wins for Al-Attiyah and Baumel with one stage to go
- Third consecutive stage win for Nasser and Mathieu
- Victory despite opening the route for second consecutive day
- One stage remains in 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Stage 4 of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Round 2 of the FIA’s World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), brought a third consecutive stage win for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel. The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew had to open the route in the GR DRK Toyota Hilux T1+ again, after winning yesterday’s Stage 3, but this did not hold them back as they powered to victory in 3hr 08min 22sec, more than 3min clear of their nearest competitors.
The penultimate stage of the event started 131 km from the bivouac at Qasr al Sarab, and consisted of 243 km of sandy tracks, dunes and rocky traverses. A liaison of 22 km after the stage brought the crews back to the bivouac for the final night in the desert.
Nasser and Mathieu had to pick their way through the scattered dunes and multiple tracks all day, but not only managed to stay clear of any trouble, but also to build a lead of 3min 01sec over the car behind them. They reported no problems with their Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+, and despite the challenge of opening the route, they had no problem to stay ahead of the competition.
They remain 20hr 05min 55sec adrift of the race leaders, following a 20-hour time penalty incurred for failing to finish the opening stage after a hard landing, which was described by the crew as ‘unlucky’. This means that they are out of contention for overall victory, but with each individual stage contributing to the W2RC points, winning stages is of critical importance in their bit for the title.
Yazeed Al Rajhi and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, who field a privately entered Toyota Hilux T1+, failed to complete yesterday’s stage after a problem with their rear differential. However, the pair fought back on Stage 4, posting the 3rd-fastest time of the day, just 8min 04sec behind Nasser and Mathieu. Their penalty for not completing yesterday’s stage has seen Yazeed and Dirk tumble down the order to 7th place in the overall standings, and they are now 20hr 25min 21sec behind the overall lead.
The 5th and final stage of the event will see the crews leave the bivouac at Qasr al Sarab to complete a timed stage of 209 km. Liaisons of 162 km in total will have to be negotiated, and the stage will finish back at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, where the event started on March 6th.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“It is three-in-a-row for Nasser and Mathieu, and we are overjoyed to record another stage victory. More importantly, they’ve now bagged a total of 15 points towards the W2RC title, and even though they’re out of contention for overall victory, each point is of critical importance at this stage.”
“It was another good day for us, and we are quite happy to win again despite opening the road. It feels as if we’ve unlocked a new level of performance, and this is good for us, especially looking forward to the upcoming races. But our experience here in Abu Dhabi has been very good, and our Toyota Hilux is working very well in these conditions. There’s still one stage left, which we will try to win in order to score maximum points, with the aim of leaving here as the championship leaders.”
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Stage 4 Results:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ 3hr 08min 22sec
2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +3min 01sec
3. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Von Zitzewitz (DEU) Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux T1+ +8min 04sec
4. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport +12min 41sec
5. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +16min 04sec
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Standings after Stage 4:
1. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport 15hr 04min 09sec
2. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +33min 21sec
3. Przygonksi (POL) / Gottschalk (DEU) X-Raid Mini JCW Team +1hr 28min 31sec
4. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +2hr 03min 14sec
5. Halpern (ARG) / Graue (ARG) Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux T1+ +4hr 30min 46sec
6. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ +20hr 05min 55sec
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