Al-Attiyah stretches Dakar lead on “toughest stage yet”.


14 January 2015

Calama, Chile
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

After what Nasser Al-Attiyah described as “the most difficult stage of the Dakar so far”, the Qatari has stretched his lead of the epic event to 23min 58sec, with four days of action left.

The route today took competitors from Iquique to Calama in Chile, via a 450-kilometre special stage through the Atacama Desert, featuring both sand dunes and gravel tracks. But this was no ordinary stage. Powdery fesh-fesh sand and high winds conspired to make visibility and navigation almost impossible, with drivers having to fight their way through the equivalent of a sandstorm.

Many drivers were caught out: among them Nasser’s key rival Giniel de Villiers, who has been placed second and chasing Nasser Al-Attyiah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel for most of the race. Nasser started the day with an eight and a half minute lead, but this margin has now grown after De Villiers and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz got lost trying to find a waypoint.

Nasser himself was second-fastest on the stage, six minutes behind the stage winner Nani Roma, and the first to arrive at the finish line. He testified to conditions that were as bad as anybody has seen them for a long time, with no respite at all from the start to the finish of the stage.

“This was the most difficult stage of the Dakar so far, we are so very happy to get to the finish,” said the Qatar Rally Team driver. “The main thing was just to be calm and easy, as the wind and the dust meant that we couldn’t see the road. Thank you again to my co-driver Matthieu Baumel, who was perfect. I hope together we’ve done a good job and that it’s enough to bring us closer to winning the Dakar.”

Although Nasser now has a significant margin, there are still four days and 2796 kilometres left to run until the finish in Buenos Aires on Saturday, January 17th.

By tomorrow, the crews will be back in Argentina, as they traverse the Andes before embarking on a 358-kilometre special stage, en route to Salta. The liaison section climbs as high as 4970 metres at the Paso de l’Acay: quite literally the high point of this year’s Dakar route.

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 SS9:
1. Nani Roma (ESP)/Michel Perin (FRA) Mini 4h 41m 56s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Qatar Rally Team +00:06:27
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) +00:15:52
4. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota All Speed +00:21:58
5. Yazeed Al-Rahji (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota +00:27:16

Overall ranking after SS9:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Qatar Rally Team 31h 29m 38s
2. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota All Speed +00:23:58
3. Yazeed Al-Rahji (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota +00:39:29
4. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini +01:17:41
5. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Roesegar (NLD) Mini +02:41:46
6. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Pascal Maimon (FRA) Toyota +02:51:39
7. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) +03:02:41 
8. Carlos Sousa (PRT)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) Mitsubishi +03:33:35
9. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota +03:34:07
10. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/Anton Nikolaev (RUS) +03:41:24










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