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Al-Attiyah guides Toyota to victory in Andalucia Rally
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 17 - 05 - 2021

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel guided their Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux to a second successive victory in the five-day Andalucia Rally in southern Spain and got their 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies campaign off to the perfect start.
The Qatari and his French teammate became embroiled in a fierce battle with Spain's Carlos Sainz and Overdrive Racing teammate Yazeed Al-Rajhi for honors over four demanding legs through Andalucia and the neighbouring province of Cordoba.
Al-Attiyah led from the opening qualifying stage, but Sainz maintained the pressure right to the final kilometers, as the Qatari crossed the finish line with a slender winning margin of 2min 43sec.
Al-Attiyah said: "The last stage was not easy. We had to keep the position, the first place, but I am quite happy to win here again. Every race we are fighting with Carlos (Sainz). He is one of the best drivers in the world. I am quite happy."
Baumel added: "Andalucia, like last year, was fantastic. Nice places, nice roads, technique, fast and in the mountains and in the valleys and between the vegetation and the olive trees. The fight with Carlos and Yazeed was very high.
"We pushed a lot to win again this year. It is only piste, so navigation is not so difficult here. It is more about speed than navigation here."
With regular co-driver Michael Orr still recuperating from a back injury sustained in Saudi Arabia in early March, Al-Rajhi was partnered by German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz, rounded off the podium places and secured third place for a second year.
Dutchman Erik van Loon and his French co-driver Sébastien Delaunay delivered an impressive performance in the third of five Overdrive Racing cars to finish fourth.
Portugal's Victor Conceicao teamed up with Brazilian Valeria Nacarato in the fifth of the Toyotas. They had a strong start to the event but a time loss on day two pushed them down to 57th overall and they recovered to finish much higher up the rankings.
Poland's Martin Kaczmarski returned to the Overdrive Racing line-up to drive a Toyota Hilux alongside Finnish co-driver Tapio Suominen. They were running outside the top 10 before transmission issues intervened after 142km of stage three.
Overdrive Racing also ran a quartet of OT3s in the FIA T3 category. The lightweight off-road vehicles dominated the category from the start.
A transmission issue cost Seth Quintero an early lead, but Guillaume de Mevius, Cristina Gutierrez and Mitchell Guthrie took up the challenge at the top of the rankings.
Gearbox issues thwarted De Mevius's push for the win on the final leg and Gutierrez was able to cruise to the category win and snatch a fine sixth overall.
Action in the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies resumes with Rally Kazakhstan on June 7-13. — SG


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