Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel pick up a new title in a new category.
It was a new challenge, but a familiar result for Qatar’s three-time Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah
in Morocco this week. Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Mathieu Baumel
entered their first side-by-side (SxS) race at the Afriquia Merzouga
Rally and, after a typically expert performance over the dunes of
Erfoud, the reigning Dakar Rally car class champions have added yet
another title to their exceptional offroad careers. Here is all you need to know:
Al-Attiyah and Baumel were quick to demonstrate their class as they
took the win on the first special stage of the rally, a challenging
208km dash over the dunes. On the opening day the duo opened a gap of
nearly 20 minutes to their nearest rival.
– On the second
stage, a 212km loop, the Dakar winners in their Can-Am SxS machine once
again recorded the day’s fastest time despite a slight slip-up.
“We got lost! In the last five kilometres, we were intent on following a
bike in front of us, but it turned out the rider had made a
navigational mistake. In the end we didn’t lose too much time and it was
still an awesome day,” explained Al-Attiyah
– Stages three
and four of the rally combined to make a marathon stage, meaning
Al-Attiyah and Baumel would be left on their own, with no mechanical
assistance, overnight with their new vehicle. The pair took this in
their stride as they recorded the quickest time on both stages to
increase their lead in the SxS category.
– The last remaining
stage, dubbed the Grand Prix of the Dunes, saw the pair finish the job.
They made it a clean sweep of five stage wins as they motored through
the 48km final stage, setting the fastest time as they had done all
– “I’ve really enjoyed this rally, the atmosphere around
the bivouac has been great all week. All the riders, pilots and the
organisation together, a really good spirit to the race. Me and Mathieu
learned so much this week. I’m hoping now I can come back next year. I’m
now a big fan of racing side-by-side and it would be great if we can
get some more of the top Dakar guys to try this,” Al-Attiyah commented
after the victory.
– “We’ve had a really good time! It’s been a
tremendous learning curve, we’ve learned a lot about side-by-side
racing. As a co-driver, it’s less stressful than in a car, so it’s more
fun. The Afriquia Merzouga Rally is a really good learning step for
anyone who wants to discover rally raid,” echoed Baumel.
Having added the Qatar Cross-Country Rally and now the Afriquia Merzouga
Rally to their Dakar Rally title, 2019 is shaping up to be another
memorable year for Al-Attiyah and Baumel.
Afriquia Merzouga Rally: SxS Top 3
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT): Can-Am – 17h 30m 11s
2. Conrad Rautenbach (ZWE): Can-Am – +01h 36m 29s
3. Juan-Miguel Medero (ARG) Can-Am – +01h 59m 28s