Al-Attiyah wins the first stage of the Andalusian Rally
Qatari Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel set the fastest time at the wheel of their Toyota Hilux leading Stage 1 (Dos Hermanas-Dos Hermanas) of the Andalusia Rally on Thursday.
It was a superb comeback for four-time Dakar Rally champion al-Attiyah whose World Rally Raid Championship title hopes suffered a mini-blow on Wednesday after the Qatari was handed a one-minute speeding penalty. speed, pushing him back to eighth place. place both in the stage and in the general classification of the prologue stage.
Al-Attiyah holds a 22-point lead over Sébastien Loeb, who won the prologue round of the Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) on Wednesday. Yesterday, however, was a fierce test for Loeb as he battled to boost title ambitions. The Frenchman encountered power steering problems during the first long selective section of the rally with the BRX Prodrive Hunter. Loeb and co-driver Fabian Lurquin finished the day third, 11:16 behind al-Attiyah.
The nine-time world rally champion must now call on all his experience and driving skills over the next three stages to pick up bonus points to erase al-Attiyah’s advantage before the finish tomorrow.
While Saudi Yazeed al-Rajhi takes second in another Toyota Hilux, Guerlain Chicherit, winner of the penultimate round in Morocco earlier this month in another Prodrive Hunter, finished the day fourth behind Loeb and Dutchman Eric Van Loon.
Loeb picked the No. 1 starting position on the stage as he looked to extend his advantage over al-Attiyah. After having received a one-minute penalty during the first stage for speeding in a neutralized zone, the Qatari started the day’s stage in 11th position, behind a succession of slower cars on a course where overtaking is hazardous.
In stark contrast to the Moroccan desert conditions of the previous round, the 319km stage took place on fast tracks amid the olive groves and wheat fields of Andalusia. Loeb’s power steering problems saw him lose six and a half minutes in the first 34 kilometers as al-Attiyah took the lead, and the WRC legend dropped to 13th first.