QATAR’S Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, one of the early favourites, pulled out of the gruelling Dakar Rally after just three stages following extensive damage to his Toyota Hilux.
The two-time champion won the first stage and was runner-up in the second before misfortune struck in the third when a wheel ripped off his car.
The 46-year-old did not start the fourth stage from San Salvador de Jujuy to Tupiza in Bolivia.
“It was a mistake. It’s bad luck, but this is race. This is how the Dakar is. We were doing a really good job, we were leading but there you go,” Nasser rued.
Nasser went off road and hit a hole at around the 414km mark. He still continued driving and lost more than two hours as he limped to the finish.
“We hit the other side on a big stone and broke the wheel completely. We decided to use some rocks and the wheel to make up the balance, but we had to drive 80km like that. We stopped to repair, but couldn’t. We didn’t have all the parts,” added Nasser.
Also joining Nasser on the sidelines was rally legend Carlos Sainz of Spain, whose Peugeot was badly damaged in an accident, and defending motorcycle champion Toby Price, who fractured his left thigh bone.