Second consecutive stage win for TGR’s Al-Attiyah and Baumel in Abu Dhabi
- Nasser and Mathieu record second consecutive stage win
- Valuable W2RC points gained on Stage 3
A second consecutive stage win by TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge showed the true potential of the mighty GR DKR Hilux T1+. The pair brought the Dakar-winning car home in first place on Stage 3 of the 5-stage event, despite starting in first position and opening the route.
The 255 km-long stage started and finished near the bivouac at Qasr al Sarab, to the south of Abu Dhabi, and consisted of sandy tracks and dunes in equal measure. In terms of navigation, Stage 3 brought many challenges, which clearly did not perturb the experienced Mathieu on the day.
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing pair completed the stage in a time of 3hr 32min 44sec, besting their nearest competitors by 5min 16sec. Unfortunately, they remain out of contention in 7th place, 20hr 14min 23sec adrift, after failing to complete the opening stage, and incurring a 20-hour penalty.
They bounced back with a win on Stage 2, passing all the cars ahead of them in the process, before setting of for Stage 3 as the first car on the road. This is often challenging for both driver and co-driver, but Nasser and Mathieu have proven themselves equal to the task of opening the stage on many occasions, and Stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was no exception.
Today’s stage win brought the crew another 5 points in the FIA’s World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), of which the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge serves as Round 2. The pair scored maximum points for their win at the Dakar Rally in January this year, but each stage now contributes to the championship points, and as such it is important for the Toyota pairing to score as many stage wins as possible.
Yazeed Al Rajhi and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz were the leading Toyota crew after two stages, but a broken front differential forced the pair to retire from Stage 3. They’ll be back to fight on in Stage 4, but will incur a time penalty for not completing the stage, putting them out of contention for victory.
Argentine driver Sebastian Halpern and co-driver Bernardo Graue, also from Argentina, are now the leading Toyota Hilux crew. The privateers are fielding a Toyota Hilux T1+, powered by the Lexus V8 engine, and are in 5th position overall, 4hr 27min 51sec behind the leaders.
Stage 4 will bring another stern test, at 243 km in distance. The crews will also have to cover liaisons totalling 153 km on the day, with the stage again starting and ending at the Qasr Al Sarab bivouac. Two stages remain in the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, with Stage 5 taking the rally back to the city of Abu Dhabi on Thursday, March 10th.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“Another stage win for Nasser and Mathieu today, which is great to see. They’ve really shown that the GR DKR Hilux T1+ is a car to be reckoned with, and were it not for some bad luck on the opening stage, the leader board would have looked very different at this point.”
“Today was another tough stage, even though it wasn’t very long. It really wasn’t easy, but I’m happy to take another win, as well as the 5 championship points that come with it. The stages are tricky mainly because of the light, which makes it difficult to discern the terrain, especially when travelling southward. But even so, we managed to do a good job, and are looking forward to tomorrow.”
“This morning we started Stage 3, which features nice dunes and sandy tracks. It was a good start, but by midday the sunlight made it really tricky to find our way safely. Then again, Nasser is the ‘king of the dunes’, so we found our way without mishap. We won the stage again, and that’s the plan for the remainder of the race.”
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Stage 3 Results:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ 3hr 32min 44sec
2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +5min 16sec
3. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport +5min 33sec
4. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +20min 00sec
5. Halpern (ARG) / Graue (ARG) Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux T1+ +23min 43sec
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Standings after Stage 3:
1. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport 11hr 43min 32sec
2. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +30min 17sec
3. Przygonksi (POL) / Gottschalk (DEU) X-Raid Mini JCW Team +1hr 25min 26sec
4. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +2hr 14min 02sec
5. Halpern (ARG) / Graue (ARG) Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux T1+ +4hr 27min 51sec
7. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ +20hr 14min 23sec
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