Nasser Al-Attiyah has continued to show his dominance of rallying in the Middle East this season, as he teamed up with UK preparation experts Autotek Motorsport to win the Cedar Rally (October 18/19), held in Lebanon at the weekend. Al-Attiyah...
Nasser Al-Attiyah has continued to show his dominance of rallying in the Middle East this season, as he teamed up with UK preparation experts Autotek Motorsport to win the Cedar Rally (October 18/19), held in Lebanon at the weekend.
Al-Attiyah is desperate to win the FIA Middle East Rally Championship this season, and has used his own money to contest both the Oman International Rally and the Lebanese event held in the mountains of the country. The twisty mountain roads were an ideal preparation for the Troodos Rally in Cyprus at the end of the month, the penultimate round of the Middle East series.
Nasser was using the Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI of fellow Qatari driver Misfer Al-Marri on the event, although the specification had changed. Autotek had installed a Group A engine and 5 speed 'dog' gearbox into the car, in order to give Nasser a closer likeness to his normal WRC Subaru. Autotek Motorsport (Barnoldswick, Lancashire) were also running a Subaru Impreza WRC98 on the event for Mohammed Hamso, who was also looking forward to his outing in the recently rebuilt car.
Al-Attiyah, partnered for the first time by Ziad Chehab, a former Lebanese Champion, suffered a puncture on the very first stage, which cost the sporting all rounder some time in the rough and dry gravel conditions. Autotek team mate Hamso was the prime beneficiary from the Qatari's delay, as he took an early lead on the first leg.
Leg two saw a reverse in fortune for the two drivers. As Hamso collected a double puncture on the left hand side of his Subaru, Al-Attiyah rocketed back to the top of the time sheets, as he began to dominate the event. Michael Saleh, a long time Toyota driver, had no answer to the flying Doha man as he kept out of trouble en route to claiming a fine victory in the Mitsubishi. Hamso recovered from his unfortunate puncture to take a well earned final podium position after a tough event.
Nasser was delighted with his weekend's work:
"I'm delighted to have won another gravel rally this year. Autotek Motorsport did a great job in preparing the car for the event, and we didn't have any mechanical problems at all on a very demanding rally. It worked out very well for us in the end, as I decided I needed extra practice on tighter and twisty stages in readiness for Cyprus and the Troodos Rally. I have funded both the Oman Rally and the Cedar Rally from my own pocket so that I have the best chance possible of scoring a good result on the next round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship with the Qatar Rally Team. We are very well prepared for Cyprus now, and I am very much looking forward to that rally with the Autotek team."
Al-Attiyah will be re-united with regular co-driver Steve Lancaster of Selby, Yorkshire for the remaining rounds of the FIA Middle East series.