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Al Attiyah wins Morocco Rally, Przygonski crowned FIA cross-country rally champion

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Morocco, October 10: Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah stayed clear of problems through the final stage to claim his fifth successive victory in the gruelling Rally of Morocco and give Overdrive Racing and the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Team a major boost as preparations continue for the 2019 Dakar Rally.

Al Attiyah and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel dominated the race from the start and overcame their fair share of minor problems and delays to earn a winning margin of 16min 41sec over the newly-crowned FIA World Cup champion Jakub Przygonski and his Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul.

A demanding six-day event that ran with a new organising team under the leadership of former Dakar organiser and navigator David Castera featured 1,362 kilometres of tricky navigation, dunes, rocky terrain, river bed crossings and everything that the team needed to shake down its fleet of Toyota Hiluxes before January's Peruvian challenge.

The success marked a hat-trick of wins for Al Attiyah with the Toyota.

Al Attiyah said: "It's unbelievable that we've been able to win our fifth consecutive Rally of Morocco. I'm so happy with our performance here and our new car has been really strong all week."

World title

World title

Russian G-Energy driver Vladimir Vasilyev and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov lost their slim chance of overhauling Przygonski to snatch a second FIA World Cup title when transmission issues sidelined their Toyota.

Vasilyev hit trouble on the stage and gearbox issues wrecked the Russian's chance of preventing Przygonski from securing the world title.

Quickest time

Quickest time

Al Attiyah clocked the quickest time of 8min 27sec through the opening 10km Prologue stage at Fes. The Qatari beat Martin Prokop by nine seconds and Jakub Przygonski by 23.

Ovedrive Racing colleagues De Villiers, Vasilyev, Ten Brinke, Van Loon and Chabot were fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth and 14th. Seaidan lost 13 minutes on the Prologue and stopped the clocks in 21min 04sec after rolling his Toyota and Domzala also suffered a minor technical issue.

Really careful

Really careful

Al Attiyah added: "It was not a bad day. We broke the front arm in stage one and decided to continue. We lost a lot of time over the last 30km but we fixed it with a spare and then we needed to be really careful because it was only an emergency one. The car is new and we needed to find the weak points."

Fifth victory

Fifth victory

The Overdrive Racing cars of Al Attiyah, Chabot, Ten Brinke, Liang, De Villiers, Van Loon and Seaidan headed to the final two short parts of the last stage between Erfoud and Fes in first, fifth, seventh, 14th, 21st, 23rd and 25th overall.

The Qatari erred on the side of caution to conserve his lead and a fifth victory in Morocco, as Carlos Sainz won the last stage and De Villiers recovered strongly to pip Ten Brinke to the second quickest time.

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    Story first published: Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 14:43 [IST]
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