Power performance by TGR’s Al-Attiyah/Baumel on Stage 2 in Abu Dhabi
- Nasser and Mathieu power to stage victory in Abu Dhabi
- They remain out of contention after mishap on Stage 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel powered their Dakar-winning Toyota GR DKR Hilux to victory on Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Round 2 of the FIA’s World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC). The defending champions started the stage in 5th position after an unlucky landing that saw them exit Stage 1 shortly after the start. This resulted in a hefty time penalty, which not only put them out of contention for victory, but also dropped them down the starting order.
Despite this, Nasser and Mathieu showed toughness and tenacity to bring their GR DKR Hilux T1+ home in first place on the nearly 300 km-long second stage. The pair passed each of the cars ahead of them, eventually leading the field towards the end of the stage. They managed to maintain their lead despite having to find the route, and finished 3min 50sec ahead of their nearest competitors.
The pair started the 2022 edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as the odds-on favourites, but a hard landing near the start of the opening stage caused a lower control arm on the usually highly reliable Toyota GR DKR Hilux to fail. Under the W2RC rules, the crew was penalised by 20 hours, but allowed to restart the race in order to compete for stage points, which now contribute to the overall championship.
With five points on offer for each stage victory, it was important for Nasser and Mathieu to push during Stage 2. They managed to bag maximum points, despite a stage that was described as long and difficult. Their aim will be to continue in this vein, aiming for more stage victories, as the overall victory is out of their reach.
After two stages, Yazeed Al Rajhi and Dirk von Zitzetwitz were still the leading Toyota crew, 7min 49sec behind the overall leaders. The TGR crew remains out of contention in 7th place, with a deficit of 20hr 19min 56sec to the lead.
Next up is Stage 3, which consists of a timed section of 255 km. The stage will start next to the bivouac at Qasr al Sarab, and finish 35km away from the bivouac. The terrain is expected to consist of sandy tracks and dunes, in equal measure. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge consists of five tough stages, with the race drawing to a close on Thursday, March 10th.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“It was great to see Nasser and Mathieu bounce back today, after yesterday’s setback. They really showed not only the pace of the car today, but also their amazing tenacity and fighting spirit. Winning the stage also aids in their W2RC title aspirations, so overall it was a really good day for the team.”
“The stage was really hard and long. We started 5th on the road and finished first, winning the stage. Our aim was to push and see where we are with the limits of the Hilux, but I’m very happy with the performance. Now we need to win all the remaining stages.”
“For sure, today was very different from yesterday, especially in terms of the result. It was a long and difficult day, with lots of sand and many dunes. We caught all the cars ahead of us today, having started in 5th position and ending in 1st, so overall a good day for us. Unfortunately, we can’t play along for the overall victory anymore, but taking the five points today is good for the championship, and we’ll try to continue like this until the end.”
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Stage 2 Results:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ 4hr 25min 11sec
2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +3min 50sec
3. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Von Zitzewitz (DEU) Overdrive Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ +10min 55sec
4. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport +12min 36sec
5. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +13min 27sec
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Standings after Stage 2:
1. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport 8hr 5min 15sec
2. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Von Zitzewitz (DEU) Overdrive Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ +7min 49sec
3. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +15min 50sec
4. Przygonksi (POL) / Gottschalk (DEU) X-Raid Mini JCW Team +40min 07sec
5. Serradori (FRA) / Minaudier (FRA) Mathieu Serradori +1hr 01min 38sec
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