DOHA, QATAR – Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Matthieu Baumel, fresh from a victory for Toyota on the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, took the early lead on the next round of the FIA’s Cross-Country World cup. The Sealine Cross-Country Rally takes place in Qatar, and consists of five days of racing, ending on Friday, April 22nd 2016. With the opening two stages behind them, Al-Attiyah and Baumel held a lead just shy of eight minutes, in their South African-developed and built Toyota Hilux.
“Today’s stage was very rough, with lots of rocks,” said Al-Attiyah from the bivouac at the Losail International Race Circuit in Doha. “But the Toyota Hilux is strong, and had no problems dealing with the tricky terrain.”
Stage 2 saw the crews tackle 346 km of desert terrain, with a dune section of 50 km near the end of the stage. This followed on from the 226 km opening stage, which Al-Attiyah/Baumel won by 44 seconds over Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk (MINI). The Toyota crew extended their lead by 07:12 on Stage 2, giving them a total buffer of 07:56 over Al Rajhi/Gottschalk.
“The Toyota Hilux was faultless these last two days, and we’ve got no problems to report,” concluded Al-Attiyah.
Al-Attiyah/Baumel, driving the Toyota Hilux that finished third overall in this year’s Dakar Rally, with South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers behind the wheel, are joined in the top ten by the fellow Toyota Hilux crew of Marek Dabrowski and navigator Jacek Czahor. The pair were in 7th place overall after Stage 2, trailing the buggy of Jutta Kleinschmidt and Philipp Beier by only 02:03.
Stage 3 features 355 km of cross-country desert racing, and takes place on April 20th, 2016. This is followed by two more stages, bringing the total race distance to nearly 1,500 km, before the rally concludes in Doha on Friday. The rally follows a cloverleaf format, with the overnight bivouac remaining at the Losail race circuit for the duration of the race.