Qatar: Al Attiyah seals 14th Qatar Rally win and first regions success for VW Golf GTi R5

Qatar: Al Attiyah seals 14th Qatar Rally win and first regions success for VW Golf GTi R5

Sat, March 16th, 2019- Manateq Qatar International Rally- FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1

LOSAIL (Qatar): Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah cruised through the final six gravel special stages of the Manateq Qatar International Rally to seal a convincing victory by the margin of 3min 29.6sec on Saturday.

A record-breaking 14th victory in his home event also marked a remarkable 70th MERC victory in the 211-event history of the FIA Middle East Rally Championships since 1984. Al-Attiyah’s French co-driver Matthieu Baumel duly claimed his third win in Qatar and a career 18thin the MERC.

The success also marked the first outright FIA championship rally win for Volkswagen’s Polo GTI R5 that made its debut at the WRC in Spain last October and claimed WRC 2 success in Sweden in February with Norwegian driver Ole Christian Veiby. Customer Polos have already won national events in Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Latvia this year.

Al-Attiyah won each of the 11 special stages. He said: “The first win for the Polo in history in the Middle East. The car and the team were working very well. We learn a lot from this race. It was fun to drive. I get the feeling quickly, like I know the car very well. Now we prepare for Jordan. It’s important that we stay in the Middle East Championship.”

Baumel added: “I have 18 wins but I am not at the level of Nasser (70). The last two years we had problems and we retired here in Qatar. This year, with the new car, we were a little bit scared, but the car was perfect. No punctures also. A small scare with a sensor set-up last night but, I guess, this was because it was a new car. It was a good week.”

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari got to grips with his Škoda Fabia R5

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari got to grips with his Škoda Fabia R5 as the event progressed and he and British co-driver Marshall Clarke finished in a comfortable second place.

Al-Kuwari said: “Good rally and we enjoyed a lot. We were safe and clean. This is a good sign that I am driving safe. We need more time in the car in the desert to improve the set-up. Nothing better than second place behind Nasser to help me to continue. I congratulate him for the win.”

Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani, the 1993 regional champion, claimed his first podium finish at the event since 2010 to give the host nation a first 1-2-3 finish since Al-Attiyah’s last home win in 2016.

“I am so happy about the third position. I also thank Dale (Moscatt), my-co-driver. He taught me so much inside the car. This car is like a new toy. It is beautiful. It is fantastic to drive. I just need a little more experience. I also drive a little safe to go to the finish.”

Veteran Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah managed to stave off a late challenge from Khalid Al-Suwaidi to conserve fourth overall in the battle of the two Ford Fiesta R5s.

Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri mixed it with the R5 cars for much of the rally

Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri mixed it with the R5 cars for much of the rally before slipping back to sixth overall after the penultimate stage. The Mitsubishi driver’s consolation was a massive winning margin of 18min 34.1sec in MERC 2.

Italy’s Stefano Marrini was the leading non-Arab driver in seventh overall and a distant second in MERC 2. Qatar’s Rashid Al-Mohannadi and Abdulla Al-Kuwari were eighth and ninth and Oman’s Abdullah Al-Ruwahi rounded off the top 10.

Defending MERC 3 champion Henry Kahy got the defence of his title off to the perfect start with 11th overall and first in the two-wheel drive category. Jordan’s Asem Aref closed off the FIA finishers in 12th.

Jarah Al-Touqi began the last day with a 17min 26.1sec lead in the Manateq Qatar National Rally and finished with a winning margin of 20min 03.4sec. Hamid Al-Qasimi was on a charge over the final day and managed to pass Zakariyah Al-Amri to take second place before retiring on the last stage.

Oman-based Briton Shaun McGonigal failed to restart from third after his Subaru sustained suspension bush damage after a puncture on the fifth stage.

Saturday – as it happened

Several competitors were awarded small time penalties for inadvertently making route deviations during the opening super special stage at Al-Wakrah on Thursday evening. The top seven positions were not affected by the Stewards’ decision, but there some changes to the leader board further down the order.

Two loops of three special stages were planned for Saturday and Al-Attiyah led the way into the opening Eraida stage of 19.39km with a lead of 1min 24.5sec after both he and closest rival Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari had picked up a 10-second penalty the previous evening.

The leader carded an opener of 10min 15.1sec and extended his advantage to 2min 01sec, as Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani pulled further clear of Al-Thefiri in third and Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah overtook Al-Suwaidi to snatch fifth after the latter’s R5 lapsed into two-wheel drive with a broken front axle. Jahman Jaralla failed to enter the overnight Parc Fermé and therefore restart this morning from his allotted position of eighth on the road.

Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Meer failed to restart as well and Lebanon’s Ahmed Khaled returned to service with fuel feed issues and retired his Mitsubishi. Oman’s Saif A-Harthy was also sidelined.

The longest stage of the rally at Al-Dhakira ran for 24.13km. There was no respite for Al-Attiyah’s rivals. He gained over one second a kilometre and another 24.5 seconds on Al-Kuwari. Only 12 FIA cars began the special: Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah was on a charge and pulled further clear of a troubled Al-Suwaidi. Kahy dropped over three minutes and slipped behind Abdulla Al-Kuwari into 10th overall.

The Al-Khor (18.18km) special followed before the late morning return to service at the Lusail Sports Centre. Al-Attiyah cruised through the test to extend his lead to 2min 35.1sec and Al-Thani survived damaging a suspension arm in a ditch. Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah set the third quickest time, despite two slow punctures, and continued to close in on Al-Thefiri.

Al-Attiyah said: “We are quite happy. The car is working very well and we are learning more and more. We know what we need now. We did a really good time in the first stage. I need to manage now. We don’t have time to test, but I need to keep the same pace with what we have received from VW. For Jordan, we have time to do more testing. Today we change the programme to be on the safe side. We try to keep the pace. I enjoy a lot.”

Third-placed Al-Thani said: “We break the front arm but we arrived on time. The last 100 metres of the last stage, the arm was cut completely. We have enough time to fix at service.”

Al-Suwaidi said: “It’s difficult because I broke the front axle on the first stage and only had two-wheel drive. I finished the three stages like this. We change at service. I had suspension problems yesterday. It was last minute to decide to do the rally and we did not have chance to prepare too much.”

Action resumed with Eraida 2 and Al-Attiyah shaved seven seconds off his morning’s run to increase the lead to 3min 03sec. Al-Suwaidi was able to push harder with a repaired Ford Fiesta and reduced Nasser Khalifa’s hold on fourth to 53.1 seconds. For his part, Al-Attiyah closed to within 16.9 seconds of Al-Thefiri in fourth, as all 12 survivors finished the special.

Al-Attiyah completed the penultimate special 10 seconds quicker than he had in the morning and took a lead of 3min 19.6sec to the final test at Al-Khor. A resurgent Al-Suwaidi managed to overtake Al-Thefiri and take fifth place and he closed to within 16.1 seconds of Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, who also overtook the Kuwaiti.

There was no stopping the rally leader, however, and he lopped another 10 seconds off his morning run to seal the win from Al-Kuwari and Al-Thani. Sixth-placed Al-Thefiri confirmed the win in MERC 2 and a superb final stage from veteran Nasser Khalifa enabled him to stay in fourth.

Action resumes in the regional series in Jordan at the end of April.

2019 Manateq Qatar International Rally – positions after SS11 (@ 15.10hrs):

  1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5        1hr 56min 18.8sec
  2. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR) Škoda Fabia R5                              1hr 59min 48.4sec

  3. Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani (QAT)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Ford Fiesta R5                           2hrs 07min 22.4sec

  4. Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Ford Fiesta R5                           2hrs 08min 58.5sec

  5. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)/Adel Abdulla (QAT) Ford Fiesta R5                                                 2hrs 09min 48.6sec

  6. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (MERC 2)    2hrs 10min 47.5sec

  7. Stefano Marrini (ITA)/Nicolas Garcia (ARG) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (MERC 2)             2hrs 29min 21.6sec

  8. Rashid Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (MERC 2)     2hrs 34min 12.6sec

  9. Abdulla Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Hugo Magalhães (POR) Subaru Impreza (MERC 2                2hrs 35min 25.0sec

  10. Abdullah Al-Ruwahi (OMN)/Ata Hmoud (JOR) Subaru Impreza (MERC 2)                 2hrs 51min 04.1sec

  11. Henry Kahy (LEB)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR) Škoda Fabia (MERC 3)                                2hrs 53min 19.2sec

  12. Asem Aref (JOR)/Faris Al-Tal (JOR) Renault Clio (MERC 3)                                      3hrs 35min 07.6sec


2019 Manateq Qatar National Rally – positions after SS11:

  1. Jarah Al-Touqi (OMN)/Issa Al-Wardi (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII                       2hrs 38min 22.3sec
  • Zakariyah Al-Amri (OMN)/Abdullah Al-Amri (OMN) Subaru Impreza                             2hrs 58min 25.7sec


    2019 FIA Middle East Rally Championship – standings after round 1 (unofficial):

    1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah                                      39pts

    2. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)                     30pts

    3. Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani (QAT)               24pts

    4. Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)              19pts

    5. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)                                     16pts

    6. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)                       14pts

    7. Stefano Marrini (ITA)/                           7pts

    8. Rashid Al-Mohannadi (QAT)                   4prs

    9. Abdulla Al-Kuwari (QAT)                                    3pts

    10. Abdullah Al-Ruwahi (OMN)                   1pt

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    22 minutes ago


    Back in 1986, onboard cameras were *the* cool new thing in F1 🎥

    And in Australia, Johnny Dumfries showed everyone why 🤩
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    Comment on Facebook

    Manual gearbox and clutch F1 car onboards are the best, the drivers were proper manhandling them round the circuit and it was spectacular viewing. This setup actually lasted until 1995, when the Forti FG01 was the last F1 car to have this system

    These guys were epic...they literally had to muscle these cares around a track...and do it one handed while shifting! Impressive 🙂

    In tht Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell (Williams) retired (puncture) and the world championship was clinched by Alain Prost (McLaren)

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    Wow that was cool shifting sound and flames 🙌💪💪

    He took a shower of gasoline from the ahead car,when you see that the camera goes white, imagine that while have to deal whith a manual gearbox monster

    Audio is completely out of sync. Ahhh those where the days

    No electronic aids, no flappy paddle shifters. These cars had to be driven, manhandled, beaten into submission until tamed. And only the best could truly tame these beasts.

    You should use much more onboard on F1 transmissions. MUUUUUCH more.

    How cool would it be to bring back a manual gearbox and clutch!

    Like a boss!!! One handed on the wheel and shifting gears like a man. 🙂

    WOW!!! Only 34 years ago but technology seems light years apart

    My bum was biting lumps out of my chair while watching

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    His team mate on pole (Ayrton )

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    in the good old days❤

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    1 hr ago


    The next hero in a long line of American motorcycle racing talent? 🇺🇸

    Go behind the scenes with Joe Roberts racer in this exclusive documentary as he sets out on his path to take a nation back to the top ✨

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    Us American fans can only hope. It’s been a long time since the golden age of American riders that I grew up watching.

    Saw my first moto race and Joe Robert's started on the pole in Qatar! Was a blast but wish MotoGP could have been there. Maybe the Texas race will be the next one.

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    There is an American in super sport.

    It's time to rise again USA 😀

    All the Best💥..

    Wish ya was racing at home this weekend!!!

    Good america moto gp


    Je m'implique moins ds ka moto2 que ds le MotoGP classe 1000 mais j'aime regarder de la moto3 jusk'a MotoGP sauf que trop de pilotes sur le plateau moto2 je retient pas tout forcément merci Steve Ragaud

    Vincent Bennett

    La famille roberts Grand nom de la MotoGP du père kenny Robert puis kenny Robert jr champion du monde avec Suzuki et maintena t le fiston! En lui espérant la même carrière que ses aînés!

    If the season would get shorten this year. I do believe this wouls be a great chance for Joe to capitalize on this one. Can't wait to see him polish a few mistakes he & his team had in the first race. 😎

    Use the front very late along with the rear you moron

    Long line ?

    Hate it when you do this, he has 1 podium and now all eyes are on him so he is gunna feel a mountain of pressure and if he fails that's the end of his career you guys got to stop making a big deal so early all the time what if he can't take the pressure of everyone focused on him 😒

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    2 hrs ago

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    The new 24H DUBAI 2020 merchandise is now online in our shop!

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    What, no umbrellas or wellington boots?!

    3 hrs ago


    "Being able to control a 700kg, 1000 horsepower car only with your hands and your feet is... it's the best thing" - we hear you, Romain Grosjean 😍 🤩 ... See Less

    Comment on Facebook

    I used to love this driver, great talent but now he’s just unpredictable driver.

    If by control you mean running off track on at least one turn during the first lap of every GP, then you’re good👍🏼🤦🏻‍♂️

    Karim: "Being able to CRASH a 700kg, 1000 horsepower car only with your hands and your feet is... it's the best thing" - we hear you, Romain Grosjean"

    Of course I can't drive as well as Grosjean, but I can still differ a good race driver from a bad one.

    Not the best driver, but a generally good guy.

    Ah the hate and cheap jokes on Romain Grosjean. I bet the majority of the haters here can’t even ride a tricycle without going flat on their faces! Get a life, kids.

    The problem is you are not good enough. You crash even under saftycar rules.

    Somehow I think that the driver's main control unit deserved a mention, as well :).

    The problem is there Romain you can't control a 700 kg car with 1000 horsepower, Mr Gunter has had enough of you and Kevin 🤣

    Just exactly what the hell is left to control the car with? Is there a lesser-known control system that uses, exclusively, ear muscles, armpits, and hip flexors?????

    Yeah takes a special kind of talent to spin a car in pit lane and end up facing the wrong way.

    Is he reading that out for someone coz this guy couldn't control a shopping kart

    But he can’t control it lol. Poor romain. Give me the wheel I’ll show you 🙃

    Grosjean and car handling? April Fools, I got it.

    All the expert race car drivers on this post 😂🤣😂🤣 Yeah, Grosjean isn't the best, but he's certainly better than all you facebookers knocking him 😉

    Since the 2020 F1 season is pretty much cancelled, Grojean took on a warehouse job..

    His best season to date was 2013, when he was team mate to Räikkönen at Lotus. Got 6 podiums and 7 other points finishes, but since 2014 his career’s been very inconsistent

    The best driver on the grid that knows how to crash

    Goes to show what you think you can realise, no matter how far-fetched! Just look at Romain Grosjean.... An F1 driver.... Still... Wow...

    Too bad there are no racing series like that...

    “Being able to control.”

    Still mastering the art of leaving the pitlane!

    Best season for Grosjean. He didn’t crashed in any race so far.

    Ironically from the driver who tends not to control his car! 🙄🤔

    its a formula ignorant, not a car, you know nothing and you talk. shame

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