Toyota Racing Sets Early Pace at Qatar Rally

It was the perfect start to the 2019 Qatar Cross-Country Rally for defending champion and recent Dakar winner, Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel.

The pair started their assault on the race, which they failed to win in 2018 after retiring on the final stage, in fine style – setting a time 03:05 faster than their nearest rivals over the 110 km-long opening stage.

“This is my home event, and that is always special. It is a very difficult race, but even though I have a good record here, last year showed that anything can happen. But we started well today, and I’m hoping we can set the record straight this time,” said Al Attiyah after bringing the South African-built Toyota Hilux home to the bivouac in Doha.

Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke will also be hoping for a good result in Qatar, after a disappointing end to his Dakar Rally. Now partnered with Tom Colsoul (Belgium), the Toyota Hilux driver set the second-fastest time on the opening stage, and was upbeat about his performance.

“The car ran perfectly, and felt very fast. It is also nice to be reunited with Tom, and he navigated like a champion today. There’s still a long way to go, but we have every reason to feel confident at this point,” said Ten Brinke from the bivouac after Stage 1.

The Toyota trifecta at the top of the standings was completed by Yazeed Alrajhi and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. The pair drove their Toyota Hilux to a time just 4:00 off the pace set by Al Attiyah/Baumel.

The Qatar Cross-Country Rally started with a ceremonial podium at the Pearl-Qatar in Doha on Thursday, 21 February. The race consists of six racing stages, run over five consecutive days, with the bivouac remaining in place in the Qatari capital of Doha throughout.

Stage 2 will see the crews take on 324 km of dunes and rough dirt tracks, where navigation will again play a pivotal role. The race is set to finish in Doha on 26 February, after a 263 km-long final stage.

 

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