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Al Attiyah leads FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies after Kazakhstan win

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Bengaluru/Doha, June 4: Qatari ace Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah was made to work mightily hard for a second victory in Rally Kazakhstan and the outright lead in the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

The three-time Dakar Rally champion and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel looked to be in control before the fifth demanding selective section through some of the remotest terrain in eastern Kazakhstan.

Lengthy delays for the crew in that loop stage to the north of Aktau City meant that the outcome went down to the wire and the Toyota Hilux crew had to stave off a fierce challenge from rival and Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel over the final stage to confirm a second win on the longest FIA event in the calendar.

Al Attiyah eventually pressed on down the coastline of the Caspian Sea to the finish in Aktau City to secure a winning margin of 5min 21sec and repeat his 2017 triumph on the newest round of the cross-country calendar.

The win gave him an unofficial nine-point lead in the FIA Drivers' Championship to take to the final round in Morocco in October.

Yazeed unimpressive

Yazeed unimpressive

Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al Rajhi was not able to repeat last year's success in Kazakhstan.

But he and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz claimed two stage wins, led after day one and recovered from a third-day roll and a series of punctures to reach the finish in eighth overall.

Jakub in the mix

Jakub in the mix

Defending World Champion Jakub Przygonski was just over three minutes behind the stage winner in third and Ten Brinke came in fifth with the third Toyota in a time of 2hrs 30min 26sec.

The fourth selective section ran for 399.24km on a route that guided crews back to Aktau City from a start in Kenderli via the petroleum hub at Zhanaozen.

Enthralling finish

Enthralling finish

It marked an enthralling finish to the event organised by the Automotorsport Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan as Al Attiyah did just enough to stave off any late pressure from Peterhansel to secure the victory for Overdrive Racing and take the outright FIA World Cup lead.

"I'm obviously very happy to win Rally Kazakhstan and now I'm leading the championship. Now we're waiting for Morocco. This is a good year for us. Six wins in total and six races in which I compete. We controlled the pace well today. It was a nice stage, no problems," said an elated Al Attiyah.

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Story first published: Tuesday, June 4, 2019, 12:47 [IST]
Other articles published on Jun 4, 2019
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