Al Attiyah chases fourth Sealine Rally victory

 16 Apr 2016 - 0:26

Al Attiyah chases fourth Sealine Rally victory
A file photo of Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and his Overdrive Racing partner, French navigator Matthieu Baumel in action. Inset: Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah. (file photos)


DOHA: Qatar’s racing icon Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah will be the one to watch among a strong line-up of 45 cars when Overdrive Racing continues its hectic Middle Eastern tour in next week’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally, round three of the 2016 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. 
Fresh from claiming a stunning victory with the Belgium-based team at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge two weeks ago, the Qatari star will drive one of the three Toyota Hiluxes which will compete against renowned drivers from 29 nations during the five-day event which starts on Monday and finishes on April 22.
Al Attiyah and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel were in superb form in the United Arab Emirates and took advantage of the strength and reliability of the Overdrive Toyota Hilux to beat their nearest rivals by an impressive 32min 13sec. That success has given Al Attiyah the outright lead in the FIA World Cup standings and he is confident that a fourth victory on the Sealine event in five years will strengthen his position at the top of the points’ standings.
“This event is very special to me and it’s important that I achieve a good result,” said Al Attiyah. “The team did a superb job in Abu Dhabi and I enjoyed driving the car very much. This is a different rally altogether, far more technical, and there is far more responsibility on Matthieu with the navigation.”
Overdrive Racing won the Sealine event in 2012 with Al Attiyah and Spanish navigator Lucas Cruz Senra and are chasing their second outright success. Last year, Reinaldo Varela and Marek Dabrowski brought their Toyota Hiluxes to the finish in third and fifth overall.
Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor crew a second Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux in Orlen Team colours in this year’s event. They finished eighth overall at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, after running inside the top five early on. The Poles will be chasing the podium on this occasion.
Qatar’s Khalifa Al Attiya and his French navigator Jean Michel Polato crew a third Overdrive Toyota Hilux.
“Everyone in the team is looking forward to the challenge of the Sealine Rally immensely,” said Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean Marc Fortin. “Nasser will be competed at home and we are confident that the team can earn a second major win in three weeks. The competition is strong, of course, but Nasser knows the deserts well in Qatar and has an impressive record here, both at the Sealine Rally and in the special stage events in the regional rally championship.”
Competitors tackle five selective sections in the Qatar deserts over demanding off-road terrain across the length and breadth of the gas-rich Middle Eastern state.  The first stage starts out of Al Zubara, to the very north of the peninsula, and runs for 229.53km on Monday.
Tuesday’s second special of 345.39km begins at Al Kharrara and finishes close to the Losail bivouac. Stage three, on Wednesday, April 20, starts from Sealine and is the longest of all the stages at 355.69km.
The fourth runs for 354.56km between Al Shabana and Sealine on Thursday, April 21 and the final section of 348.21km starts out of Rawdat Rashid and runs to a finish close to the bivouac at Sealine on Friday, April 22. This precedes the ceremonial finish and post-event press conference at the Losail Circuit on Friday afternoon.

The Peninsula