Dakar 2022 leader Al-Attiyah fined for breach of rules

Dakar Rally leader Nasser Al-Attiyah has been hit with a €5,000 fine and a suspended disqualification for failing to connect the data logger to his Toyota.

The penalty was announced at 9:15 local time on Tuesday, just before the start of the third stage near Al Qaisumah.

According to an official statement by the stewards, the Qatari driver arrived at the bivouac on Monday with FIA's black box - which records all the performance data of each car and is supplied by Magnetti Marelli - disconnected to his Toyota Hilux T1+ car.

This is in breach of regulation 13.1.2 of the FIA World Rally Raid Sporting Regulations, which states that this data collection system is mandatory for "all T1 vehicles with a turbo petrol engine (...) and for all T1 vehicles with a turbo diesel engine whose drivers are FIA priority drivers". 

It was Toyota that alerted the FIA technical delegate after realising the black box was not connected to the car.

The technical delegate passed on the matters to the stewards who, after listening to the team's representative Jean-Marc Fortin (Overdrive), decided to impose a penalty of €5,000 to be paid within 48 hours. In addition, it also decided to impose a suspended disqualification from the 2022 Dakar Rally in the event of a repeat of a similar offence in the next 10 days.

In the same statement, Toyota's Fortin explained that it an error on the team's part that led to the fine.

"It was a simple mistake by our mechanics," he said. "They just forgot to connect the data logger to the battery. We disconnect the data logger every night from the battery for safety reasons. I will personally check all next days that the data logger is properly connected."

The consequence of this oversight is that the instrument did not register any data during the whole of stage 2, so "there is no way to check if the Turbo Boost pressure has exceeded the values defined in the appendix VIII of the 2022 CCR Sporting Regulation."

According to the stewards, this type of infringement, even if it was not intentional, implies a disqualification "according to the jurisprudence in the past."

However, they consider that "exceptional circumstances exist in the present case, insofar as the Rally Dakar consists of 12 competition days and the infringement was discovered in the second leg and the car was in conformity in the first leg."

"A disqualification from the entire competition does hence not seem to be proportional, especially as the competitor has confirmed to rectify the problem promptly so that his car will comply with the regulations for the following 10 competition days," it said.

Al-Attiyah holds a nine-minute lead over Bahrain Raid Xtreme's Sebastien Loeb going into Stage 3.

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