FOR Mohamed Issa Abu Issa, the 2017 Dakar Rally presents a challenge of a different kind. After driving a quad bike for three years at the event, the Qatari is making his debut in the cars category.
And having bagged one of the coveted seats of X-Raid Mini Team, Mohamed Issa is charged up.
“It has always been a dream for me to do a Dakar in a car. Three years of experience in the quads has made me mentally stronger. The support from factory teams is coming down in quads, and so I decided to make the switch. Moreover the offer from X-Raid Mini came about after a lot of negotiations and testing. I’m really excited this opportunity,” said Mohamed Issa.
As he is all set to become just the second Qatari, after Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, to compete in the cars category of Dakar, the excitement is palpable. After all, he will be competing for the same team that won the title for four consecutive years from 2012 to 2015 — the last of which was won by Nasser.
“I hope to learn a lot with my stint in such a competitive outfit. The team has expertise in all areas — mechanics, technicians, physios and doctors, as well as management. There’s no competition between me and Nasser. He’s 46 and I’m only 26. I’ll be trying to compete with my generation of drivers. The first aim would of course be to complete the rally. You know in Dakar, if you’ve a bad day, you’re out of the rally completely. There’s no second chance. So my main aim would be to complete the rally and if I can finish in the top-15, that would be really great,” added Mohamed Issa,.
The Qatari had a dream Dakar debut in the quads section in 2014 when he finished fourth and was adjudged the best rookie. But two retirements in the following years forced him to do a reality check.
“Dakar is the ultimate test of skill and character. You spent close to 14 hours in a car daily. The navigation is also crucial. I’m lucky to have Frenchman Xavier Panseri as my co-driver. I’m also looking forward to my team-mate Yazeed Al Rajhi,” he concluded.