Qatar International Baja 2023: Toyota's Al-Attiyah maintains superb home record with victory at Qatar International Baja

Qatar International Baja 2023: Toyota's Al-Attiyah maintains superb home record with victory at Qatar International Baja

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Overdrive Racing’s Krotov, Yacopini and Chabot finish 2nd, 4th and 10th

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Andorra-based co-driver Mathieu Baumel romped to a comfortable win in the Qatar International Baja, round two of the 2023 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
But delays on the first stage on Friday had cost the Toyota Hilux crew time and they had to fight their way back from third place to regain the lead they held to the finish.
Al-Attiyah has now won each of the five Qatar Bajas that have run since 2004 to accompany his seven victories in nine seasons at the longer Qatar Cross-Country Rally. Five cross-country and two Baja wins have come with different versions of the Toyota Hilux. The success marked Baumel’s eighth alongside Al-Attiyah.
Al-Attiyah was also able to extend his lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas Drivers’ Championship. He said: “It was a good Baja. The first day I had a small margin and the second day I pushed a lot. I thank Jean-Marc (Fortin) from Overdrive Racing for bringing me a new car and thanks to Qatar Airways for flying this car over very swiftly so that I was able to compete here. I am very glad to win here again on my home race. I always want to compete in every international event in Qatar and it’s great to bounce back with a win after my big crash in Abu Dhabi.”
While Al-Attiyah was entered under the Toyota Gazoo Racing banner and drove a T1+ car supplied by Lithuania’s Benediktas Vanagas, Overdrive Racing also entered three Toyota Hiluxes for Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov, Argentina’s Juan Cruz Yacopini and Spanish co-driver Dani Oliveras and the French duo of Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot.
Krotov adapted well to driving the car that had been used by Henk Lategan at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and he moved into second overall when Krzysztof Holowczyc retired with engine cooling issues. He managed to hold his nerve over the final challenging stage to finish 16min 21.6sec behind Al-Attiyah in second overall.

Krotov said: “After 35km, I had to stop and change the tyres. After that we lost a little power and didn’t have a big speed. One turbo was not working. But the race was good and I enjoyed the stages.”

Yacopini had finished the Prologue in ninth place but he climbed to sixth after stage two and up to fifth heading into the final stage. Another solid performance by the Argentine was rewarded with fourth overall and vital points towards the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
Chabot started cautiously on his return to the Overdrive Racing fold. He had been down in 20th after the Prologue, lost time on the longer of Friday’s stages and then recovered well to hold 16th before 8min 15sec of time penalties knocked him back to 18th. The Frenchman’s best run of the weekend was third quickest through the final stage and that lifted him to 10th overall
Because his Toyota GR DKR Hilux had been damaged after a barrel-roll in Abu Dhabi, Al-Attiyah’s car was shipped in from Portugal and sported a new colour scheme for the opening 9.08km Prologue stage. He rewarded the team’s preparation efforts with the fastest time of 5min 49.5sec and he moved into a 4.8-second lead over Holowczyc.
Krotov was penalised five seconds for a jump start but still managed to finish third, while Yacopini and Chabot came home in ninth and 20th overall.
The second leg ran for 234.34km and included a second stage of 117.29km and two parts of a third stage (46.05km and 70.53km), which were split by a transfer zone.
Al-Attiyah lost the lead to Holowczyc on the longer first stage and then battled back to set the fastest time on the next one to lead by 2min 33.8sec at the end of the day.
Krotov held second place, despite two flat tyres and Yacopini and Chabot were classified in fifth and 18th overall.

Al-Attiyah said: “The first stage was not easy because the road book was not really clear but we make two mistakes that cost 10 minutes. On the next two sections we pushed and are quite happy.”

Krotov added: “Today was good. No problems with navigation. My co-driver did a good job. Two punctures cost us time.”

Saturday’s second selective section offered 224.96km and ran over four timed parts of 33.73km, 28.51km, 43.23km and 113.20km split by non-competitive transfer zones

Al-Attiyah was in no mood to let victory slip away in his home deserts and the Qatari claimed the stage win from Guoyu Zhang to secure a comfortable win. Krotov came home in fourth, behind Chabot, to secure second place and Yacopini climbed to fourth with the fifth quickest time.
There is now a four-month lay-off before the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies resumes with the Italian Baja on July 6th-9th
In the meantime, Overdrive Racing switches its main focus to the new Sonora Rally in México, round three of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, taking place on April 22nd-28th.

2023 Qatar International Baja – result (unofficial @ 15.15hrs):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Toyota GR DKR Hilux 4hr 51min 49.7sec
2. Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (ISR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive5hr 08min 11.3sec
3. Guoyu Zhang (CHN)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Baic ORC BJ40 5hr 11min 00.6sec
4. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hr 23min 50.9sec
5. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) MCE-5 T3M (T3) 5hr 30min 32.4sec

*T1 unless stated


Source Overdrive Racing

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