QATARI ace Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah fine-tuned his Dakar preparations in style by showing his pace over the sand and winning the penultimate round of FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in Morocco for the third time in a row.
The dunes of Morocco are proving to be a happy hunting ground for two-time Dakar champion Nasser and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel. They got off to a perfect start by winning the prologue and first two timed special stages of the gruelling six-day rally.
The duo, in a Toyota Hilux of Belgian outfit Overdrive Racing home, finished 12min and 08sec ahead of over former Dakar winner Carlos Sainz, in a Peugeot, for their sixth successive victory at the FIA World Cup.
Mini All4 Racing’s former world champion Vladimir Vasilyev finished third.
Nasser has dominated every event in which he has competed and the Morocco win followed remarkable successes for the Toyota Hilux in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Italy, Spain and Poland. He was forced to miss the Hungary leg due to his shooting commitments.
“This year, we’ve won six races with our Toyota. So I’m really happy with the performance and how our preparation for Dakar is going,” said a beaming Nasser, who was already crowned the world champion after the victory in the last round in Poland.
Nasser’s main rival Joan Roma, Ronan Chabot and his brother Khalifa brought three of the other four Toyota Hiluxes home in sixth, seventh and 14th positions.
Dutchman Erik van Loon and co-driver Wouter Rosegaar were well placed inside the top 10 before crashing the fifth Toyota on the third stage.
Nasser and his team had carried out a useful test before the Morocco event and will now drop out of the final leg in Portugal from October 27 to 29.
“It was a tough rally because so many times we had to open the road. We concentrated on finding a good speed each day and doing the best job we could to make time on our rivals wherever we could. There were some interesting navigation sections and Mathieu (Baumel) did a great job,” added Nasser.