Two-time Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was in determined mood in his native Qatar as he hunted down another victory. Nasser crashed out of the points in Abu Dhabi earlier this month so returned to racing with a real hunger to get back on track at the Qatar Cross Country Rally. There was also plenty to celebrate for current Dakar bike champion Sam Sunderland in Qatar as he won the two-wheel contest.
Nasser got things started with an impressive victory on a super special stage run over a purpose-built track that featured jumps and water splashes and sections of Losail’s motocross course. The Qatari then suffered power steering and gearbox issues as the race moved out into the desert and lost the overall lead.
Nasser and co-driver Mathieu Baumel battled back to take the chequered flag, followed home by Kuba Przygonski and Tom Colsoul. It turned out to be a tough week for car category novice Mohamed Abu Issa who suffered punctures and navigational woes on the penultimate stage.
We stayed focused all week on getting the job done, Al-Attiyah told us after the race. We suffered a big crash in Abu Dhabi so we needed to make sure we got the win here so we can get our season back on track.
There was also plenty of drama in the bike race before reigning Dakar champion Sunderland eventually emerged victorious. The British biker was on great form all week and spearheaded the Red Bull KTM Factory Team’s attack.
Sunderland’s team-mates also stood out from the pack with stage wins collected by both Matthias Walkner and Antoine Meo in Qatar.
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 13:48:09
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini +7:02:00
3. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota +7:30:00
5. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini +14:44:00
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 15:50:18
2. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Honda +07:42
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM +13:11
7. Antoine Meo (FRA) KTM +2:18:25
8. Mohammed Balooshi (UAE) KTM +3:34:36
Nasser Al-Attiyah: It was a difficult rally so of course I’m happy to come away with the win. We had a few problems since the beginning of the rally so it was important that we stayed focused all week on getting the job done. We suffered a big crash in Abu Dhabi so we needed to make sure we got the win here so we can get our season back on track.
Kuba Przygonski: This has been a really nice race for us. We have been pushing since the beginning and won two stages. We have finished second overall so that’s a result we can be pleased with. It’s my first podium in the car category so I’m really happy about that. The relationship with my co-driver Tom (Colsoul) keeps getting better and better. We could feel ourselves making great progress at this race.
Sam Sunderland: It’s been a good week and I’m really happy to get the win. We always know that we’re going to get a tough race here in Qatar. You always know the navigation is going to be tough. Also the stages are all very long so staying focused is a real key to doing well here. When you do your roadbook for three of four hours each night the days here start to get really long. But this year is going fine so far, wins at the Dakar and Abu Dhabi and now here in Qatar. I’m happy to have a small break in the calendar now to recharge the batteries.