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Al Attiyah hopes to get his title defence back on track

By Sajith B Warrier
Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Doha/Bengaluru, April 13: After missing two rounds of FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah hopes to get his title defence back on track in the fourth round at home in Qatar.

Al Attiyah won the opening round in Russia before giving the Dubai and Abu Dhabi legs a miss due to his pre-occupied commitments.

Now the ace Qataris is back behind the wheels of what has become his familiar Toyota Hilux for the Qatar Cross Country Rally to be held from April 17 to 22.

Qatar's round of the FIA World Cup joined the series in 2012 and Al Attiyah has won every year except for 2013, taking the last four wins with his regular French navigator Matthieu Baumel.

Having missed the previous two round, this year's event carries extra significance for the Qatari, who now trails series leader Martin Prokop by 63 points.

Heading to the start of the event at the Katara Cultural Village, north of Doha, on Tuesday, (April 17), the two-time Dakar Rally champion exuded confidence.

"It's always important for me to win at home, but this rally is very important to the defence of my championship. I've to push for the win," said Al Attiyah.

Action gets underway with a timed super special stage within the confines of the Losail International Circuit the following afternoon and the bulk of the competition will be fought out over four desert selective sections from April 19-22 - race officials reducing the desert format by one day this time, although there will still be in the region of 1,395 competitive kilometres.

Al Attiyah will be driving one of the five Toyotas as he will be joined on his home event by former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers, Saudi Arabia's Yasir Seaidan, Poland's Aron Domzala and Dutchman Erik van Loon.

Sixty points are available to the winner of the five-day challenge through the remotest parts of the State of Qatar, on an event where precise navigation is just as important as speed across the varied sandy and rocky terrain.

Organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycles Federation, officials have tweaked the timetable for this year's event, which will start from the Katara Cultural Village for the first time.

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    Story first published: Friday, April 13, 2018, 11:35 [IST]
    Other articles published on Apr 13, 2018
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