Overdrive Racing’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah continues to rewrite the history books after confirming a third FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies drivers’ title by winning this weekend’s Columna Medica Baja Poland, round seven of the nine-event series, at Szczecin in northwestern Poland.
Driving a Toyota Hilux, al-Attiyah edged into a useful lead early on and then came under fierce pressure from the experienced local driver Krzysztof Holowczyc when he slowed slightly over the closing stages to eventually record a fifth successive victory with his Overdrive Racing team by the margin of 1min 21sec.
Partnered by French navigator Matthieu Baumel, al-Attiyah adds the 2016 FIA World Cup title to the pair he earned in 2008 and 2015 and gives Overdrive Racing and Toyota a first ever FIA World Cup Drivers’ Championship title.
The Polish duo of Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor delivered a measured performance on their return to action in the Team Orlen Toyota Hilux and shadowed al-Attiyah and Holowczyc to the finish in third position.
Dane Jes Munk and Polish co-driver Rafal Marton reached the finish in seventh position in a third car and al-Attiyah’s brother Khalifa teamed up with Belgian navigator Stéphane Prevot with backing from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) to finish 10th.
Overdrive Racing also supplied a car for the Polish duo of Marcin Maluszy?ski and Julita Maluszy?ska. They reached the finish in Szcecin in ninth place.
Frenchman Ronan Chabot and his navigator Gilles Pillot were placed just outside the top 10 until Chabot put his Toyota Hilux on its side in the fifth stage and were forced to retire.
“This is a very nice feeling to have two cars on the podium and to take our first major FIA title here,” said a delighted Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin. “This month is the 10th anniversary since we started Overdrive Racing with our first event being the Dakar in 2007. Some of the mechanics have been here since the start, since the creation of the company, and this is a superb result for all of us.
“We knew it would not be easy here. The Polish drivers know the stages well and they know where to cut and where to put the wheels. It is always like this. But Nasser was superb as usual and Marek claimed third place. That is a great result for him to be the best of the ‘unbeatable’ drivers.
“Then we have Jes and Khalifa in seventh and 10th and Michal in ninth, so five Overdrive cars inside the top 10. Disappointing obviously that we withdrew Ronan Chabot’s car after he put it on its side this morning, but this has been a superb weekend nonetheless and we can certainly enjoy this result and celebrate this evening.”
Al-Attiyah laid down the gauntlet with the quickest time through the opening 7.08km super special stage in the militarised area, near Szececin, and edged into a lead of 12 seconds over local hero Holowczyc. Dabrowski, Chabot, Maluszy?ski, Khalifa al-Attiyah and Muck were fourth, 14th, 17th, 19th and 23rd.
Saturday’s action comprises two selective sections of 176.33km apiece in the militarised area around Drawsko Pomorskie. Al-Attiyah was not to be denied through the first pass here either and the Qatari beat Dabrowski by 28 seconds to extend his overall advantage to 48 seconds and give Overdrive Racing a 1-2 placing at the midday break.
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4hr 59min 17sec
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL) Mini All4 Racing 5hr 00min 38sec
3. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hr 07min 36sec
4. Jakub Przygo?ski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 5hr 10min 42sec
5. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Ilka Minor (AUT) Ford F150 Raptor 5hr 14min 35sec
6. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Bartosz Momot (POL) H3 Evo VII 5hr 19min 48sec
7. Jes Munk (DEN)/Rafal Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hr 26min 55sec
8. Boris Garafulic (CHL)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) Mini All4 Racing 5hr 30min 53sec
9. Michal Maluszy?ski (POL)/Julita Maluszy?ska (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hr 35min 27sec
10. Khalifa al-Attiyah (QAT)/Stéphane Prevot (BEL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hr 50min 14sec
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2019