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Al Attiyah may return to WRC in a Toyota

By Sajith B
Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Bengaluru/Doha, March 8: Qatari ace Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah who has not competed in World Rally Championship (WRC) since his triumph in the support category of the series (WRC 2) in 2015 is expected to make a return to the premier class of FIA event later this year.

According to media reports, Al Attiyah will be seen behind the wheels of a Toyota Yaris on selected rounds of this year's WRC, starting with Rally Argentina in April.

Al Attiyah has won the WRC 2 twice (2014 and 2015) and had triumphed in the now-defunct Production class of WRC in 2006.

The Qatari has not had much outings in the premier class of WRC mainly because of his clash with other rally commitments as well as pre-occupation in which the other sports in which he excels - shooting, where he is an Olympian bronze medallist.

"To do a full season in WRC, you need to commit to a specified number of rallies, which I can't do due to my other commitments," Al Attiyah had told this writer.

And going by his tight schedule, it will remain the same this season as well with Al Attiyah expected to do only four rounds.

Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen has confirmed his Puuppola-based firm is preparing a fourth Yaris for up to six WRC rounds this year, although Al Attiyah will not form part of the official team.

"We'll continue discussing with Nasser. It's not decided yet, but we've asked him to be ready for Argentina," Makinen was quoted as saying in

"He is a private driver. It wouldn't be a fourth official car - we'll still run three cars, but we would prepare and run his car.

"We'll try to have his car next to our cars in the service park, this would help us with the logistics and the support needed."

Makinen added that Al Attiyah's final WRC programme is still being finalised.

"It's five or six rallies we're talking about, starting with Argentina and then Portugal and Sardinia and some more," he said.

"It would be good to have Nasser with us, from the commercial side and for his experience. Is he the fastest driver, I don't know, but he knows what he is doing in the sport."

Al Attiyah, the two-time Dakar Rally champion, will resume his FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title defence soon. He and his French navigator Mathieu Baumel had won the opening round in Russia.

Al Attiyah's name was doing the rounds in WRC circles last year as well when there was a proposal to run two Volkswagen cars with world champion Sebastien Ogier as the other. But the plan did not work out.

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    Story first published: Thursday, March 8, 2018, 12:52 [IST]
    Other articles published on Mar 8, 2018
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