Lima – Peru 6/1/2019: From one year to the next things seem the same for Nasser Al Attiyah.
The wins and titles keep adding up as his 14th crown in the MERC (Middle East Rally Championship) and 5th consecutive triumph in the Rally of Morocco can attest to.
But what the Qatari wants most is to return to the top step of the Dakar podium, the rally that this all-rounder, who is as comfortable behind the wheel as he is having a pistol in his hand (medallist in the London Olympic Games), dedicates all his attention to.
It is fine to say that his runner-up finish on the most recent Dakar was like “a small victory” against the powerful Peugeot armada, where only winning would do.
Since finishing 10th in his Dakar debut in a privateer Mitsubishi Pajero in 2004, Nasser went on to win the Dakar in 2011 and in 2015, and has 31 stage victories to his credit.
After competing for the biggest teams in the sport (BMW, Volkswagen, Hummer and Mini), he signed with Overdrive with the goal of bringing Toyota Dakar glory.
This season has been about developing and improving the Hilux that he will share with his trusty co-driver Mathieu Baumel.
Happy with the performance level of his car, especially in Morocco, Al Attiyah doesn’t want to say too much and pour the pressure on Sébastien Loeb, who he believes is the favourite for the win on the next edition of the Dakar.
“Finishing second in the Dakar behind a Peugeot was pretty good.” Said Al Attiyah “We had some problems that we had to solve on our own while Peugeot had four cars to provide help to one another with Cyril Despres who became a rapid assistance team mate.”
“So, it was sort of all small victory for us, even if we could have done better. For 2019, the rally favourite will be Sébastien Loeb in his Peugeot.”
“We all know how fast he is. And it is great to see the return of his three former team mates (Peterhansel, Sainz and Despres). I am pleased with the changes that have made to our Toyota.” He added
“We have a new chassis and the car has really progressed. In addition, I am delighted that we will stay in one country on the next Dakar.”
“It promises to create an incredible following among the public. Give me some sand and I am happy. The scenery in Peru is amazing. The dunes are somewhat particular and always tricky.” Concluded the two time Dakar champion.