DOHA (QATAR): Overdrive Racing continues its hectic Middle Eastern tour with three Toyota Hiluxes entered in next week’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally, round three of the 2016 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The five-day event starts on Monday (April 18) and finishes on Friday afternoon (April 22).
Fresh from claiming a stunning victory with the Belgium-based team at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge two weeks ago, Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah drives the first of the cars and heads an impressive 45-car entry and competitors from 29 nations.
The Qatari and his French navigator Matthieu Baumel were in superb form in the United Arab Emirates and took advantage of the strength and reliability of the Overdrive Toyota Hilux to beat their nearest rivals by an impressive 32min 13sec. That success has given Al-Attiyah the outright lead in the FIA World Cup standings and he is confident that a fourth victory on the Sealine event in five years will strengthen his position at the top of the points’ standings.
“This event is very special to me and it’s important that I achieve a good result,” said Al-Attiyah. “The team did a superb job in Abu Dhabi and I enjoyed driving the car very much. This is a different rally altogether, far more technical, and there is far more responsibility on Matthieu with the navigation.”
Overdrive Racing won the Sealine event in 2012 with Nasser and Spanish navigator Lucas Cruz Senra and are chasing their second outright success. Last year, Reinaldo Varela and Marek Dabrowski brought their Toyota Hiluxes to the finish in third and fifth overall.
Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor crew a second Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux in Orlen Team colours in this year’s event. They finished eighth overall at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, after running inside the top five early on. The Poles will be chasing the podium on this occasion.
Qatar’s Khalifa Al-Attiya and his French navigator Jean-Michel Polato crew a third Overdrive Toyota Hilux.
“Everyone in the team is looking forward to the challenge of the Sealine Rally immensely,” said Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin. “Nasser will be competed at home and we are confident that the team can earn a second major win in three weeks. The competition is strong, of course, but Nasser knows the deserts well in Qatar and has an impressive record here, both at the Sealine Rally and in the special stage events in the regional rally championship.”
Competitors tackle five selective sections in the Qatar deserts over demanding off-road terrain across the length and breadth of the gas-rich Middle Eastern state. The first stage starts out of Al-Zubara, to the very north of the peninsula, and runs for 229.53km on Monday.
Tuesday’s second special of 345.39km begins at Al-Kharrara and finishes close to the Losail bivouac. Stage three, on Wednesday, April 20, starts from Sealine and is the longest of all the stages at 355.69km.
The fourth runs for 354.56km between Al-Shabana and Sealine on Thursday, April 21 and the final section of 348.21km starts out of Rawdat Rashid and runs to a finish close to the bivouac at Sealine on Friday, April 22. This precedes the ceremonial finish and post-event press conference at the Losail circuit on Friday afternoon.