Victory for TGR's Al-Attiyah / Baumel as Qatar Baja finishes early
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel recorded victory at the 2022 Qatar International Baja, which was shortened when a developing sandstorm, high winds and reduced visibility forced the organisers to cancel the final leg of the three-day event. The GR DKR Hilux T1+ crew had built up a lead of 3min 53sec over the preceding days, and while they were keen to build on this over the closing sections, and to record some more valuable data for the development of their Dakar-winning car, they had to accept that safety was the primary concern for the organisers in Qatar.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing had decided to add the Qatar International Baja to its racing calendar for the year, following the cancellation of the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) round in Kazakhstan. This allowed Nasser and Mathieu to continue the testing and further development of the GR DKR Hilux T1+, simultaneously affording Nasser the opportunity to compete on home soil.
The Qatar International Baja is known as an extremely tough race, where good navigation is critical. This year’s race was scheduled to consist of a short qualifying stage of 9.2km, followed by two legs, each featuring two timed stages.
Al-Attiyah and Baumel set the fastest time on the qualifying stage, leading their nearest competitors by 4.3sec. Next, they tackled the two stages of Leg 1, where they increased their lead significantly over the 122.73km first section; with a measured performance on the second section of 124.86km seeing them with a consolidated lead of 3min 52.6sec.
The final leg of the event was due to bring two more timed sections, but poor visibility forced the organisers to cancel the final leg, which meant that Al-Attiyah and Baumel emerged victorious from the shortened event.
At the same time, fellow-Toyota Hilux driver Yazeed Al-Rahji, also in a V6-powered Toyota Hilux T1+ secured second place; with Yasir Seaidan sealing third place in a similar Toyota Hilux T1+, giving Toyota a lockout of the Qatar International Baja podium.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“While it was disappointing not to complete the final day of the Baja in Qatar, we are overjoyed at Nasser and Mathieu’s victory. They did more than enough early on in the race to secure the win, and while we would have loved to notch up more kilometres for testing and development of our Dakar-winning car, we have to respect the organiser’s decision to cancel the final leg in the interests of safety.”
“Safety always comes first, and the only option available to the organisers was to cancel today’s racing. We were looking forward to a good fight, but I’m very happy with the way our car performed over the last few days, and I’m always happy to win in Qatar. The terrain here is tough, and the navigation is never easy.”
2022 Qatar International Baja – final positions:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ 2hr 21min 11.5sec
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive +3min 53sec
3. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive +27min 30sec
4. Kris Meeke (AND)/François Cazalet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) +29min 29sec
5. Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Manuel Lucchese (QAT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) +50min 54sec
6. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Max Delfino (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T4) +52min 50sec
7. Sadoon Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick XRS T4) +57min 23sec
8. Rashid Al-Muhannadi (QAT)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T3) +1hr 1min 37sec
9. Yasmeen Koloc (ARE)/Stéphane Duplé (FRA) Can-Am Maverick DV21 (T3) +1hr 8min 12sec
10. Adel Abdulla (QAT)/Hugo Magalhães (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) +1hr 14min 37sec
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