Nasser and Mathieu determined to replicate Morocco success in Abu Dhabi
Following yet another victory at the 2021 Rally of Morocco, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel will look to repeat the feat and add to their illustrious list of titles when they take on the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge from 5th – 11th November. Their performance in Morocco delivered a fifth consecutive win for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in the Northern African country, while it was the pair’s third victory in the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, putting them top of the standings heading into the penultimate leg of the championship.
Al-Attiyah and Baumel have now collected 61 points in their V8-powered Toyota Hilux and sit 17 points clear of their closest challengers, Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Michael Orr. Another victory for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing teammates in the UAE could be enough for them to clinch the title with one round remaining. The pair last tasted success in the event in 2016 and are certainly one of the favourites to do it again five years on.
Having launched in 1991, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, making it the Middle East’s longest running cross country rally. Like many other events in 2020, last year’s race was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and makes a welcome return as the sport’s best drivers and co-drivers descend on the UAE for what promises to be another epic adventure.
The event will start from the iconic Yas Marina Circuit, while a purpose-built bivouac near the Qasr Al Sarab Resort will host the competitors.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge takes place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, which is famous for its towering dunes and salt flats.Competitors will cover five stages totalling a timed distance of 1,360km, with the longest being the 332km second leg. Together with the various liaisons, the total distance of the extremely challenging event will be approximately 1,950km.
1. 264 km
2. 332 km
3. 294 km
4. 252 km
5. 218 km
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel Toyota Hilux (TGR) 61 points
2. Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) 44 points
3. Lucio Alvarez/Armand Monleon Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) 42 points
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “Nasser is regarded as the ‘King of the Dunes’ and they feature prominently throughout Abu Dhabi so he and Mathieu should feel right at home. It’s always stressful at the end of a championship to ensure that everything is right and on track but we’re confident that the Hilux is in good hands with Nasser.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “This race is very important given that we are leading the championship, while I expect it to be one of the toughest of the year. The competitors are of the best in the world, but we are determined to win.
Mathieu Baumel: “It’s always nice to come back to Abu Dhabi, especially as we haven’t been here in a while. With all the sand and abundance of dunes it’s a terrain that we love. Our main aim is to collect some points and maintain our lead in the World Cup, while it also serves as some great training for Dakar 2022.”