QATAR’S AL-ATTIYAH AND SPAIN’S ROMA AIM TO GIVE OVERDRIVERACING A FIRST EVER VICTORY AT SPAIN’S BAJA ARAGON
· Khalifa Al-Attiyah teams up with Belgian Stéphane Prévot in third Toyota
TERUEL (SPAIN): Overdrive Racing has called in its heavyweight drivers in a bid to give Toyota a first ever victory in Baja Spain Aragon, round five of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah takes a break from his Olympic Games’ shooting preparations to drive the top-seeded Toyota Hilux alongside his regular French navigator Matthieu Baumel. The Doha-based driver has won the last three rounds of the series in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Italy and heads to the baking heat and punishing dust of the Teruel region of central Spain with a massive 58-point lead in the championship.
“This is a difficult race and perhaps, the hardest of all the Bajas,” said Al-Attiyah, who won the event for the only time with Swedish female navigator Tina Thörner in 2008. “It’s important for the whole team that we continue the winning momentum and try and claim the maximum points.”
The Qatari is also reunited with his former team-mate and two-time Dakar winner Joan Roma. The Spaniard announced last month that he was joining Overdrive Racing for the first time to drive a V8-engined Toyota Hilux and will be bidding for his sixth victory at the event in a car after also winning Baja Spain Aragon on four occasions on a motorcycle in his earlier career. Roma will be partnered by fellow Spaniard Alex Haro.
Al-Attiyah’s brother Khalifa drives the third of the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hiluxes in Spain. The Qatari joined the Belgian team for the first time at the Sealine Cross-Country Rally in April and then went on to finish 17th in Italy last month. He teams up with the vastly experienced Belgian WRC navigator Stéphane Prévot, who has formerly teamed up with the likes of Francois Duval and Chris Atkinson in special stage rallies.
“Everyone in the team is relishing the start of Baja Spain, because it promises to be a cracking event, like a mini-Dakar, with a great fight between at least five drivers,” said Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin, who heads to Spain this week after overseeing several of his cars in action during the first half of the Silk Way Rally that finishes in Beijing on Sunday.
“We are hopeful that Nasser can get his hands on another haul of championship points and give ‘Nani’ as much experience in the new car as we can. We plan to test before the rally to get the set-up right, but we know it’s not going to be easy with such a strong field.”
Competition for Overdrive Racing comes from the likes of two-time WRC champion Carlos Sainz, former WRC star and flying Finn Mikko Hirvonen, Argentina’s Orlando Terranova and former Dakar winner Jutta Kleinschmidt.
Competitive action gets underway from 18.51hrs on Friday evening with a revised opening special stage of 17km, near Teruel, and that precedes two days of action and a route of over 800km through the Jiloca and Comarca de Teruel regions.
There will be two selective sections of 194km and 188km from 08.31hrs and 13.34hrs on Saturday and a fourth and final special of 188km from 09.39hrs on Sunday morning.