Nasser Al-Attiyah has an Olympic medal in skeet shooting and he’s going to represent Qatar again in the sport at the Rio de Janeiro Games this summer – but for now, he concentrated on mud-wrestling.
SPORTS – After a cancelled stage yesterday due to bad weather that stopped the medical helicopter from flying, the Dakar Rally finally got underway today, travelling from Villa Carlos Paz to Termas de Rio Hondo. The scheduled 550-kilometre stage was shortened to 387 kilometres, now finishing before the original end of the stage, which was most affected by waterlogged ground following yesterday’s downpour.
But conditions still remained extremely tricky today, with very high river crossings swollen by floodwater and plenty of mud for the competitors to negotiate: a stark contrast to the desert conditions that they will encounter later on during the rally.
In one of these places Nasser and co-driver Mathieu Baumel got stuck deep in the mud – along with a few others – and they also lost more time when their MINI punctured a tyre, which the duo had to stop and change.
All this meant that the pair finished eighth on the stage, just over four minutes behind the stage winner, and also eighth overall at the end of the leg. Despite a stage that wasn’t entirely trouble-free, Nasser was still happy with their progress.
“It was a tricky stage, but under the circumstances we did a good job,” he said. “In the place where we got stuck there were many quads and bikes with the same problem: it was very difficult for them. Also we had to change a puncture, which of course we practise. In total we didn’t lose too much time, but actually first on the road is not the place we want to be tomorrow, so I would say it’s going to plan for us so far.”
With three days of the Dakar now completed, Nasser is only 4m14s behind the new leader: nine-time World Rally Championship winner Sébastien Loeb.
Tomorrow the crews leave Termas de Rio for Jujuy in the north of Argentina, via a demanding 349-kilometre special stage that begins at 09:25.
2016 Dakar Rally Stage Two Results – Car race
1 Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (MC) Peugeot 3h45min46sec
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Results – Car race
1 Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (MC) Peugeot 3h52min03sec