Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel aiming to secure 2021 FIA World Cup at Hail International Rally this weekend
The final round in the FIA’s 2021 World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, the Hail International Rally, is set to take place in Saudi Arabia from Wednesday, December 8th. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel are at the top of the leaderboard on 92.5 points, 28 points clear of their nearest rivals. As such they only need to score minimal points to secure the title.
This year’s World Cup initially consisted of seven rounds, but this was reduced to six rounds with the cancellation of the Portugal Cross-Country Rally. Nasser and Mathieu got off to a strong start by taking victory in the Andalucia Rally in Spain, and elected to sit out the following two rounds.
The Toyota Hilux crew returned to action at the Rally of Morocco, which they won for a record sixth time, following their victories in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Teammates Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Alex Haro won the event in 2019. With no event taking place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nasser and Mathieu made it five consecutive Toyota victories at the tough rally.
Next came the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew again won, setting up for a spectacular finale at the Hail International Rally later this week.
The Hail International Rally consists of four competitive stages, starting on December 8th. The area where the event takes place is in the same region of Saudi Arabia as the first stages of the upcoming Dakar Rally, and as such the event has become popular as a training session for crews competing in one of the world’s toughest automotive events.
Stage 1 of the Hail International Rally features 258km of timed stage, with Stage 2 adding another 314km. Stage 3 will be contested over a distance of 249km, with the closing stage comprising 148km. The terrain is largely sandy, with some rocky sections and dry riverbeds. The total distance for the timed stages comes to 969km, while the total distance for the event, including liaisons, totals 1,753km. The rally follows a cloverleaf layout, with crews returning to the same bivouac at the end of each stage.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“The Hail International Rally has grown in stature since the Dakar Rally moved to Saudi Arabia. For us, this is more than just a chance to get some mileage under the belt in the same area as the start of the Dakar – it is also a chance for Nasser and Mathieu to win the 2021 FIA World Cup for the final time, before it becomes a world championship in 2022.”
“I have won the World Cup four times in the past, of those two victories came in the Toyota Hilux with Mathieu co-driving. For me it is always important to aim for victory, and that is what we will be doing this week. The Toyota Hilux has been absolutely perfect this year, and we are confident that it will serve us well for this final race of the season.”
“The Hail Rally is set in similar terrain to the Dakar, so for me it is a good opportunity to familiarise myself with the area in the lead up to the Dakar. Nasser and I are also excited about the chance to win a third World Cup for Toyota, and are looking forward to the rally.”