NASSER Saleh Al Attiyah is back to winning ways and that too in style! The ace Qatari began the defence of his FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title with a staggering 14min, 57sec win in his Toyota Hilux ahead of local challenger Shaikh Khalid Al Qassimi (Peugeot 2008 DKR) at the inaugural Dubai International Baja.
It was double delight for Qatar as Mohamed Issa Abu Issa finished third in a Mini All4 Racing, continuing his impressive run after his switch from quad bikes to cars.
In his first competitive outing since pulling out in the penultimate stage of the Middle East Rally Championship’s opening round at home last month, Nasser and French navigator Matthieu Baumel were in a class of their own in the Dubai deserts.
“It’s great to get the season off to a winning start and especially sweet to record a victory in this event,” said the two-time Dakar winner after his emphatic victory in the new event on FIA calendar.
Nasser won all three selective sections and proved a point against his old rival with whom he has had tempestuous relation in the past.
The Qatari will now set his sights on his title defence in two more events in the Middle East — Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (April 1-7) and Qatar Cross-Country Rally (April 16-21).
“I hope I can complete a Middle East hat-trick. That would be a great way to bounce back after the initial setbacks of the season,” said Nasser, who retired after the third stage of the Dakar Rally in January.