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Another challenge, another win for Dakar champ Al Attiyah

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel

Bengaluru, April 6: It was a new challenge, but a familiar result for Qatar's three-time Dakar Rally champion Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah in Morocco last weekend.

Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) entered their first side-by-side (SxS) race at the Afriquia Merzouga Rally.

After expert navigation and driving over the dunes of Erfoud the reigning Dakar Rally car class champions have added yet another FIA title to their exceptional off-road careers.

Al Attiyah and Baumel were quick to demonstrate their class as they took the win on the first special stage of the rally, a challenging 208-kilometre dash over the dunes. On the opening day the duo opened a gap of nearly 20 minutes to their nearest rival. On the second stage, a 212-kilometre loop, the Dakar winners in their Can-Am SxS machine once again recorded the day's fastest time despite a slight slip up.

Marathon stage

Marathon stage

Stages three and four of the Merzouga Rally combined to make a marathon stage, meaning Al Attiyah and Baumel would be left on their own, with no mechanical assistance, overnight with their new vehicle.

The pair took this in their stride as they recorded the quickest time on both stages to increase their lead in the SxS category.

Awesome day

Awesome day

"We got lost! In the last five kilometres. We were intent on following a bike in front of us, but it turned out the rider had made a navigational mistake.

In the end we didn't lose too much time and it was still an awesome day," said a beaming Al Attiyah.

Clean sweep

Clean sweep

The last remaining stage, dubbed the Grand Prix of the Dunes, saw Al Attiyah and Baumel finish off the job.

They made it a clean sweep of five stage wins as they motored through the 48-kilometre final stage, setting the fastest time as they had done all week.

Memorable year

Memorable year

"I'm now a big fan of racing side-by-side and it would be great if we can get some more of the top Dakar guys to try this," said Al Attiyah.

With wins now in 2019 at the Dakar Rally, the Qatar Cross-Country Rally and now the Afriquia Merzouga Rally it's shaping up to be another memorable year for Al Attiyah and Baumel.

 
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Story first published: Saturday, April 6, 2019, 12:38 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 6, 2019
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