TWO Dakar titles, three FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rally crowns and 12 Middle East championship triumphs adorn Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah’s glittering trophy cabinet.
If there is one crown missing from Nasser’s illustrious collection, it is the premier class of World Rally Championship (WRC), though he has triumphed three times in the support category. It seems the Qatari ace wants to set that record straight as, for the first time in his career, he looks for a full programme in WRC in 2017.
Though Nasser has made sporadic appearances in WRC in the past, he has not been able to commit himself for a full season due to his other rally commitments.
“To do a full season in WRC, you’ve to do at least nine races in a year. I couldn’t do it earlier as I had other commitments. But next year, I’ll draw my schedule in such a way that the WRC gets priority,” said Nasser.
In 2016, Nasser cut down on his motorsport commitments drastically to concentrate more on shooting, in which he was eyeing an Olympic medal in Rio.
After the Rio Games in August, Nasser was in talks with Volkswagen to do the remaining six rounds of WRC, but that did not materialise.
Nasser had the budget to compete in WRC 2, where he was a two-time defending champion, but wanted to move a step higher and opted out of the support category.
With Volkswagen deciding to pull out of WRC from 2017, it looked as though it was curtains for Nasser’s dreams, but things took a dramatic turn recently.
“The Qatar Holding has a decent stake in Volkswagen Group. They’re trying to convince Volkswagen to revoke their decision to opt out of WRC and stay in the premier class of rallying with two drivers. If everything goes well, I’ll get one of the two seats along with Sebastien (Ogier),” said Nasser. “He’s the four-time defending champion and has a long-standing relationship with the German manufacturer.”
The Volkswagen Polo car has already been put to test in Sweden recently and having Nasser on board in one of them and Ogier driving the other would certainly be a motorsport fan’s delight.
Nasser has never held himself back when it comes to chasing his dreams. Four years ago, he competed under the banner of Qatar Rally Team with the aid of M-Sport. And as he targets a similar move with Volkswagen this time, exciting times are guaranteed.