HAIL (SAUDI ARABIA): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah set the fastest time on the short final stage of the Hail Cross-Country Rally to secure a fifth FIA World Cup Drivers’ Championship title in emphatic style on Saturday.
Mathematically, the Qatari had won the title after recording two stage wins earlier in the event, but he and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel pressed on regardless in their Toyota Hilux to record three stage wins and a winning margin of 21min 51sec over the Russian duo of Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov. The success also marked their fourth FIA World Cup title together after three successive wins between 2015 and 2017.
Al-Attiyah said: “It was a good last stage and completely different to the first three. It was all gravel through the mountains. It was fantastic and we are obviously very happy with the result. I am so happy to win this race and to win the World Cup title. It was a great win. This was the last time for me in this car. The next step will be the T1+ in Dakar!”
Argentina’s Sebastien Halpern managed to overhaul Vladimir Vasilyev on the final stage to snatch the last place on the podium in the second of the X-raid Mini Buggies. Fellow countryman Lucio Alvarez may have missed out on the Drivers’ title to Al-Attiyah, but his consolation was the third-fastest time on the last stage, fifth overall and the runner-up spot in the championship in his Overdrive Racing Toyota.
Poland’s Jakub Przygonski was second quickest on the 148km final section, but a driveshaft issue had cost the Mini Buggy driver a potential podium on Friday and he finished in sixth place. Spaniard Laia Sanz brought her Mini home in a fine eighth overall, as she prepares for the forthcoming Dakar Rally with the X-raid team.
Martin Prokop used the event to shake down his new Ford Raptor Cross-Country, alongside Frenchman Ronan Chabot and Argentina’s Juan Cruz Yacopini in a pair of Toyota Hilux T1+ machines run by Overdrive Racing. None of the three crews were eligible for FIA points, but Prokop set stage times worthy of seventh in the overall standings.
Michal Goczal bounced back from gearbox issues that cost him a potential win in the T4 section to set the fastest time on the final stage in his Can-Am. He beat his brother Marek by 2min 56sec, but it was his fellow Pole who claimed the win and a fine seventh in the overall classification.
Australia’s Molly Taylor finished second in T4, 31min 55sec adrift, and Dubai-based Briton Thomas Bell, Ukraine’s Ievgen Kovalevych, and Michal Goczal were third, fourth, and fifth.
Pavel Lebedev missed two days of the rally after a first-day crash that damaged his Can-Am’s suspension but, as per the regulations, he was able to tackle the final day and managed to win the T3 stage by 4min 54sec from overall category winner Saleh Al-Saif.
The Saudi recorded a winning margin of 47min 24sec over Mashael Al-Obaidan. Annett Fischer rounded off the podium places in her X-Raid/South Racing Can-Am and the Saudi female duo of Dania Akeel and Esraa Aldkheil were fourth and fifth.
“I am so happy to finish the Hail Rally,” said Akeel. “The whole stage today was flat and fast. I love going fast. I enjoy the dunes but today was so much fun. It was hard to pass cars in the dust but I took no risks. The whole week has been incredible and great experience for me.”
Ahmed Al-Jaber claimed the final motorcycle stage win by beating Abdullah Lanjawi by 1min 56sec, but the outright victory went to Mishal Al-Ghuneim. Problems for Othman Al-Ghfeli cost the Saudi around 15 minutes on the last test and that dropped him behind his rival, with the pair separated by just 13 seconds at the finish.
Al-Jaber filled the last step of the podium, with Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera and Lanjawi rounding off the top five.
Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi sealed the quad win with another stage success on his Yamaha, the multiple Hail winner adding another success to his tally. His winning margin over Haitham Al-Tuwaijri was 1hr 56min 32sec, with Hani Al-Noumesi coming home in third.
Two-time Hail Rally winner Essa Al-Dossary comfortably won the last stage of the National/Open category in his Nissan Navara, but outright victory in the event went to Aliyyah Koloc, with Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri incurring time penalties and dropping to second place. Saeed Al-Mouri finished third in his Can-Am Maverick.
Japan’s Teruhito Sugawara (Hino) sealed the win in the Truck category with the fastest time on the final stage. Teo Calvet lost the outright lead on day three and Saudi Arabia’s Ibrahim Al-Muhanna was able to snatch second place in his Mercedes Unimog.
2021 Hail Cross-Country Rally – positions after SS4 (unofficial @15.00hrs):
- Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Gazoo Hilux 10hr 50min 23sec
- Denis Krotov (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI John Cooper Works Buggy 11hr 12min 14sec
- Sebastien Halpern (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) MINI John Cooper Works Buggy 11hr 19min 07sec
- Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Oleg Uperenko (LVA) BMW X5 11hr 19min 50sec
- Lucio Alvarez (ARG)/Armand Monleón (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 11hr 25min 31sec
- Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Mini John Cooper Works Buggy 11hr 38min 38sec
- Marek Goczal (POL)/Lukasz Laskawiec (POL) Can-Am Maverick (T4) 12hr 11min 19sec
- Laia Sanz (ESP)/Maurizio Gerini (ITA) Mini John Cooper Works Rally 12hr 14min 10sec
- Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo 12hr 24min 27sec
- Molly Taylor (AUS)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Can-Am Maverick (T4) 12hr 43min 14sec, etc
2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – Drivers’ Championship (unofficial):
- Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT) 123pts
- Lucio Alvarez (ARG) 75.5pts
- Denis Krotov (RUS) 72pts
- Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 57pts, etc
2022 spec T1+
- Martin Prokop (CZE)/Viktor Chytka (CZE) Ford Raptor Cross-Country 11hr 54min 51sec
- Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Alejandro Yacopini (ARG) Toyota Hilux Overdrive T1+ 12hr 55min 04sec
- Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive T1+ 29hr 21min 22sec
- Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) Husqvarna FR450 Rally 10hr 18min 07sec
- Othman Al-Ghfeli (UAE) Honda CRF450 10hr 18min 20sec
- Ahmed Al-Jaber (SAU) KTM 500 EXC-F 10hr 21min 59sec
- Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU) KTM EXC 450 10hr 37min 54sec
- Abdullah Lanjawi (SAU) Husqvarna FC 450 10hr 46min 45sec
- Yasir Al-Khuraf (SAU) KTM SXF 450 10hr 50min 06sec
- Mauro Torrini (ITA) KTM EXC-F 500 10hr 50min 38sec, etc
- Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 10hr 30min 28sec
- Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha YFZ 450 12hr 27min 00sec
- Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 14hr 15min 14sec
- Teruhiro Sugawara (JPN)/Hirokazu Somemiya (JPN)/Yuji Mochizuki (JPN) Hino 600 15hr 45min 12sec
- Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU)/Tariq Al-Rammah (SAU) Mercedes Unimog 18hr 48min 02sec
- Teo Calvet (FRA)/Josef Kalina (CZE)/Tomas Sikola (CZE) Tatra Phoenix 68hr 50min 35sec