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Al Attiyah wins every stage on way to emphatic Silk Way Rally victory

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Bengaluru, July 16: Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel completed a clean sweep of stage wins to secure an emphatic maiden victory in the gruelling 2019 Silk Way Rally after the final stage between Jiayuguan and Dunhuang in the People's Republic of China.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa driver secured a winning margin of 1hr 25min 04sec with a ninth successive stage win that also gave Toyota a first ever victory at the Central Asian event that was being observed for future inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

The Qatari was in a class of his own and survived the last of three demanding stages through the Gobi Desert to earn a stage time of 2hrs 27min 30sec and beat team-mate Erik Van Loon by 2min 25sec on the day. China's Wei Han finished second overall and Frenchman Jerome Pelichet rounded off the podium places.

Demanding rally

Demanding rally

The three-time Dakar Rally champion was elated after the win.

"I am so happy. This was one event that I really wanted to win and I have now managed that. It was a long demanding rally with several difficult stages towards the end in the dunes in China.

"This win is also a first for Toyota and means that Matthieu and I have now won every rally in which we have taken part this year," the ace Qatari said.

Baumel elated

Baumel elated

A delighted Baumel added: "Nine stage wins out of nine. This is an historic record in a major rally..."

The Overdrive Racing duo now switch their attention to the Baja Spain Aragon, round four of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, at the end of July.

Commanding lead

Commanding lead

Al-Attiyah had taken a lead of 59min 58sec into the penultimate special stage and the second of the passes through the treacherous dunes of the Gobi Desert.

Around 290km were timed against the clock between Alashan and Jiayuguan and Al Attiyah stopped the clock in a time of 3hrs 52min 17sec.

Tricky special

Tricky special

That enabled the Qatari to extend his overall lead to 1hr 10min 46sec over Han Wei heading into the final stage after Frenchman Pelichet dropped 39 minutes on the tricky special.

"The first two stages in the Gobi desert weren't easy. There were a lot of dunes, camel grass and the average speed was really slow. We took more than four hours to cover the first one and nearly four hours for the second one. I think the organisation had kept these tough stages up their sleeves until the end," the Qatari added.

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Story first published: Tuesday, July 16, 2019, 15:47 [IST]
Other articles published on Jul 16, 2019
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