Solid points haul for Al-Attiyah and Baumel at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
- Four out of five stage wins for Nasser and Mathieu
- Maintained perfect record after Stage 1 mishap
- Maximum points towards W2RC title
The 5th and final stage of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel record a fourth consecutive stage win. This result saw them bag 20 points towards the FIA’s World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), which they led after January’s Dakar Rally, Round 1 of the championship. Their misfortune on Stage 1 in Abu Dhabi precluded them from overall victory, but despite this, the team is pleased with the valuable points gained towards the title.
The final stage of the event started 34 km from the bivouac at Qasr al Sarab, and consisted of 209 km of sandy tracks and dunes. After the timed section, crews had to complete a liaison of 128 km to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, for the ceremonial finish of the rally.
As had been the case on the previous two stages, Nasser and Mathieu again had to open the route. This meant that they didn’t have the benefit of tracks left by competitors ahead of them, which can be challenging, especially in the dunes. Nasser has a reputation as the ‘king of the dunes’, and Stage 5 saw them traverse the tricky terrain in their GR DKR Toyota Hilux T1+ without any problems.
They completed the 209 km-long stage in 2hr 22min 16sec, finishing 2min 42sec ahead of Yazeed Al Rajhi and Dirk von Zitzewitz, driving a similar Toyota Hilux T1+. The TGR crew finished the race in 5th place overall, 19hr 44min 13sec behind the winners, after incurring a 20hr penalty when they failed to finish the opening stage of the rally.
Despite this, Nasser and Mathieu scored a total of 26 points during the event – 6 points for finishing in 11th place overall, plus 20 points for their four stage wins. This places them in second position in the W2RC title race, just 1 point adrift of the leaders.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge started on March 6th, in the city of Abu Dhabi. Five timed stages totalling 1,285 km followed, with the bulk of the racing taking part in the area to the south of Abu Dhabi.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“A stunning display by Nasser and Mathieu, as they make it four stage wins in a row. Such a pity that they had that unlucky landing on the opening stage, or the result may well have looked completely different. Even so, the four stage wins will go a long way in the W2RC title fight, and as always, we gained valuable testing time throughout the race. Overall, a good result for TGR, despite the setback early on.”
“This year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge brought us four stage wins, and we are really pleased with the points that we scored towards the W2RC here. Unfortunately, we had an issue in the opening stage, which stopped us from winning the event overall. Event so, we managed to maintain a position just one point behind Seb (Loeb) in the standings, so the title fight is very much alive. We’re also pleased with our GR Hilux T1+, which performed perfectly over the last four stages.”
“The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is never an easy race, and this year was no different. We had a mishap in the opening stage, which made it impossible for us to win the event, but besides that we won every stage of the rally. This is a good sign for the future, and we are happy to be in a good fight with Sebastien Loeb in the W2RC.”
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Stage 5 Results:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ 2hr 22min 16sec
2. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Von Zitzewitz (DEU) Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux T1+ +2min 42sec
3. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +5min 39sec
4. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +13min 10sec
5. Serradori (FRA) / Minaudier (FRA) Mathieu Serradori +14min 12sec
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Final Results:
1. Peterhansel (FRA) / Boulanger (FRA) Team Audi Sport 17hr 43min 07sec
2. Prokop (POL) / Chytka (POL) Benzina Orlen Team +29min 49sec
3. Przygonksi (POL) / Gottschalk (DEU) X-Raid Mini JCW Team +1hr 28min 53sec
4. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +1hr 52min 11sec
5. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR DKR Hilux T1+ +19hr 44min 13sec
W2RC Standings after Round 2: (drivers)
1. S. Loeb (FRA) Bahrain Raid Xtreme 112
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 111
3. Y. Al Rajhi (SAU) Overdrive Racing 70
4. J. Przygonski (POL) X-Raid Mini JCW Team 58
5. F. Contardo (CHL) Can-Am 40
W2RC Standings after Round 2: (manufacturers)
1. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 103
2. X-Raid MINI JCW Team 70
3. Bahrain Raid Xtreme 65
4. OT3 by Overdrive 63
5. PH Sport 29
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