Two-time Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was in determined mood in his native Qatar as he hunted down another victory. Nasser crashed out of the points in Abu Dhabi earlier this month so returned to racing with a real hunger to get “back on track” at the Qatar Cross Country Rally. There was also plenty to celebrate for current Dakar bike champion Sam Sunderland in Qatar as he won the two-wheel contest.
Nasser got things started with an impressive victory on a super special stage run over a purpose-built track that featured jumps and water splashes and sections of Losail’s motocross course. The Qatari then suffered power steering and gearbox issues as the race moved out into the desert and lost the overall lead.
Nasser and co-driver Mathieu Baumel battled back to take the chequered flag, followed home by Kuba Przygonski and Tom Colsoul. It turned out to be a tough week for car category novice Mohamed Abu Issa who suffered punctures and navigational woes on the penultimate stage.
“We stayed focused all week on getting the job done,” Al-Attiyah told us after the race. “We suffered a big crash in Abu Dhabi so we needed to make sure we got the win here so we can get our season back on track.”
There was also plenty of drama in the bike race before reigning Dakar champion Sunderland eventually emerged victorious. The British biker was on great form all week and spearheaded the Red Bull KTM Factory Team’s attack.
Sunderland’s team-mates also stood out from the pack with stage wins collected by both Matthias Walkner and Antoine Meo in Qatar.