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Al Attiyah heads star-studded Kazakhstan field

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Bengaluru, May 27: Some of the biggest names in cross-country racing including reigning Dakar champion Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah are plotting a course for the Caspian Sea in the Rally Kazakhstan, the penultimate round of FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies which began on Sunday (May 26).

Among the other major entrants are 13-time Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel of France and Poland's current FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies champion Jakub Przygonski.

Expect top-speed action from the trio and the rest of the world-class field of competitors as the rally weaves 2,500 kilometres through Kazakhstan during six spectacular stages.

Al Attiyah favourite

Al Attiyah favourite

Al Attiyah and Baumel won the first race of the World Cup season, the Qatar Cross-Country Rally in February. This pair are looking to take victory at Rally Kazakhstan, as they did in 2017, and put themselves clear at the top of the World Cup classifications once again.

"We'll try to win this race so we can take back top spot for ourselves. We'll be using all of our experience in Kazakhstan to get the job done," said Al Attiyah.

Peterhansel returns

Peterhansel returns

Peterhansel returns to action after a superb win at last month's Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. It was very much business as usual for the holder of the record for the most Dakar wins. The only difference in Abu Dhabi, compared with Stephane's previous cross-country car race wins was that this time his wife Andrea Peterhansel (GER) was his co-driver. Andrea will also race with husband Stephane in Kazakhstan as the pair once again team up in a MINI John Cooper Works Rally.

"I was so happy with the win at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge last month. After all, it was my first race with Andrea in a real rally car," said Stephane Peterhansel.

Przygonski challenge

Przygonski challenge

Also in the hunt for big points in Kazakhstan will be Przygonski and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk, another crew at the wheel of a MINI John Cooper Works Rally machine. Przygonski is the reigning World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies champion, but he needs to start putting some points on the board if he is to defend his title.

It's Przygonski first season racing with Dakar winning co-driver Gottschalk and they are targeting success in Kazakhstan.

Brinke in fray

Brinke in fray

In addition to Al Attiyah, Overdrive Racing is fielding a formidable line-up of two more Toyota Hiluxes with Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al Rajhi and Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke in the fray.

Brinke is determined to bounce back into title contention. The Dutchman finished sixth in Qatar after earlier on-stage delays and then a crash in Abu Dhabi ruined a potential runner-up finish behind Peterhansel.

The opening stage of Rally Kazakhstan takes place on Monday (May 27) and the final stage brings the competitors back to The Caspian Riviera Grand Palace in Aktau on Saturday (June 1).

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Story first published: Monday, May 27, 2019, 15:34 [IST]
Other articles published on May 27, 2019
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