Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (left) being given the keys of a Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet by Ooredoo chairman HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Thani to felicitate the Qatari driver’s achievements in 2014.
Champions are always in search of new challenges to spur them on. And this constant need to up the ante is what separates them from the journeymen.
Qatar’s very own Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah won the Dakar Rally in 2011 with Volkswagen and was third in the 2014 edition driving for Mini. But for the 2015 edition, al-Attiyah has decided to switch to Toyota to further his chances of a second Dakar title.
“I have been with Mini, a team that has won the Dakar. But Toyota has never won it. I want to become the first driver to win the Dakar for Toyota. That is the main reason why I came to Toyota,” said al-Attiyah yesterday during an event held by Ooredoo to felicitate the Qatari driver’s achievements in 2014.
Al-Attiyah was gifted a gorgeous Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet by Ooredoo chairman HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Thani as part of the felicitation.
“Not only is Nasser al-Attiyah a positive role model and great brand ambassador for Ooredoo, but he’s helping put Qatar on the map for sport. We wanted to thank him for his hard work, and for the inspiration he provides for the next generation of champions,” said HE Sheikh Abdullah during the event.
The Qatari driver has indeed had a great year so far. Apart from the Dakar podium, he has won the Portuguese and Argentina rallies in the WRC2 category. He has also won the top spot of the podium in all the three races (Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan) of the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
Al-Attiyah is confident of maintaining his winning run in MERC and is also targeting the WRC2 title. “We have won every race in the Middle East Rally Championship and we are leading in the standings. Winning the WRC2 title is the next step. It will be very hard but we will try to be clever and collect more points in the world championship.
“I think that will be enough for us to win WRC2. Everybody has had five races out of six while we did just three. But still we have enough races left,” said al-Attiyah.
He is currently recovering from a broken rib sustained in the last rally but al-Attiyah said he is on the recovery path and will need just one more week to be fully fit. “I had a big impact incident on my side because I had used a new seat and it was a little bit loose for my body and ended up breaking one rib on the left side. I wanted to continue but the team said no.
“They said: ‘You must stop because the health is very important and recovery is important’. Now I feel much better. Maybe I need one more week to be fully fit,” he said.
While all of these rallies are preparation, the big moment will be when he tackles the Dakar, in a Toyota this time. And for that al-Attiyah has already begun preparations.
“It is important to begin my preparation early because I have changed my brand.” When asked why he decided to make the switch, al-Attiyah said, “Toyota have been asking me for a long time but I was tied down to a different team. Now I feel it is the right time to switch to a Japanese brand because Toyota have a strong car.”
Let’s hope that al-Attiyah is able to get that big win for Toyota and for himself.
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