Al-Attiyah able to rest on his laurels.


11 January 2015

Iquique, Chile
Sunday, January 11, 2015

With the crews heading into the rest day at Iquique in northern Chile, Nasser Al-Attiyah has maintained a consistent lead of the Dakar Rally that currently stands at 8m27s.

The Qatari’s advantage over second-placed Giniel de Villiers has hovered at around that level for the last several days, with Nasser able to control proceedings intelligently from the front of the field.

However, it’s been far from easy for him, with sickness caused by sustained high altitude yesterday, and losing his front left wheel today. Furthermore co-driver Matthieu Baumel faced a formidable navigational challenge every day – especially when running first on the road.

The start of today’s stage took place across the Salar de Uyuni: a smooth road of white salt that formed a spectacular backdrop to the mountains separating Bolivia from Chile. After traversing the mountain range, the stage eventually finished with a section of sand dunes – including the famous sheer descent towards the bivouac at Iquique, on the Pacific coast.

The excursion to and from Uyuni in Bolivia formed the Dakar’s marathon stage: two days of action when the cars are not allowed to be serviced by the mechanics but only the drivers and co-drivers. It tests not just the durability of the machinery but also the nerve of the drivers, as even the smallest mistake can have big consequences, with no service crews.

“I’m quite happy to finish the marathon days with no real problems; we just had a flat tyre today and we also lost a front wheel! Luckily that was not a big deal and it cost us only about two minutes to fix it” said Nasser. “The people in Bolivia were very nice and it was a real pleasure to be there. The Salar was amazing: like driving on ice! Thanks to all Bolivians, and especially the president of Bolivia, who was there to support us.”

The man who had the best view over the spectacular scenery was co-driver Matthieu Baumel, competing on his first Dakar alongside Al-Attiyah. Today the navigation over the mountain section in the middle was particularly tricky, as Matthieu explained:

“We had a good sleep in the military barracks at the bivouac in Uyuni and set off well this morning, managing the gap to Giniel through the Salar,” he said. “We got lost at a junction in the mountains though and also got a puncture, which cost us around 10 minutes in total. When it came to the sand dunes Nasser was in his element – full attack, no mistakes – and we got some time back. At the end of the second day of the marathon stage it’s status quo really, with around an eight and a half minute overall lead for us over Giniel, who had a puncture as well. So it’s a very solid end to the first week of the rally: we’re happy.”

Tomorrow the drivers can swap their racing shoes for surfing shorts, as there will be no driving during the rest day. For the Qatar Rally Team mechanics though, it will be a day of hard work at the bivouac, preparing the car for the final run to Buenos Aires.

Stay up-to-date with the Qatar Rally Team at, as they look to pick up some serious speed in motorsport’s ultimate test of endurance racing.

Results of SS8:
1. Yazeed Al-Rahji (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota 3h 26m 49s
2. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Bernando Graue(ARG) Mini +00:01:12
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Qatar Rally Team +00:02:36
4. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota All Speed +00:02:49
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini +00:03:12

Results after SS8:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Qatar Rally Team 26h 41m 15s
2. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota All Speed +00:08:27
3. Yazeed Al-Rahji (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota +00:18:40
4. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini +00:54:38
5. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota +01:22:52
6. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Roesegar (NLD) Mini +01:25:51
7. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Pascal Maimon (FRA) Toyota +01:48:41
8. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/J-P Cottret (FRA) Peugeot +01:51:46
9. Carlos Sousa (PRT)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) Mitsubishi +02:07:13
10. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) SMG +02:26:50









Qatar Red Bull Rally Team

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