Baja Dubaï: Al-Attiyah/Baumel, leader in the evening of stage 1

Nasser Al-Attiyah stage 1 © DR

– Emiratis hold first leg lead in buggies, production class and quads as new World Cup rally gets under way in Al Qudra desert

Reigning FIA World Cup champion Nasser Al-Attiyah produced a first leg master class to take control in the Dubai International Baja powered by AW Rostamani and Nissan today while French rider Benjamin Melot grabbed the lead in the bikes contest.


Partnered by French co-driver Mathieu Baumel in a Toyota Hilux, Al Attiyah powered his way into a lead of 6 mins 12 seconds after the day’s two stages from the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Khalid Al Kendi in their Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 2008 DKR.

Former Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge quads champion Mohammed Abu Issa of Qatar finished the stage another 6 mins 52 secs away in third place in a Mini All4 Racing in the second round of this year’s
FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had flagged away the 60 cars, buggies, bikes and quads from the ceremonial start at Bab Al Shams Arena on Thursday evening, in the presence of H.E. Ibrahim Abdul Malik, General Secretary of the General Authority of Youth & Sports Welfare, and Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and Emirates Motor Sport Federation.

Al Qassimi might have been closer to Al Attiyah but for an early problem. He said: “We had a very good start to SS1 in the morning with great rhythm but then faced some difficulties when driving on the sand as the track was affected by the bikes and cars that started in front of us. So we tried to take a different line and managed to get our rhythm back and regain some of the time we had lost,