Al-Attiyah, Domzala, Van Loon and Chabot to drive quartet of Toyota Hiluxes
Overdrive Racing dominated last year’s FIA World Cup: Al-Attiyah and his regular French navigator Matthieu Baumel claimed the title with an event to spare after taking a staggering six successive outright victories in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Spain, Italy, Poland and Morocco. After missing out on Dakar success following an early accident, the Qatari returns to action fresh and determined to continue his remarkable run of form with the Toyota in the FIA World Cup.
“This is a new event in the championship and my first cross-country rally of the season since the Dakar,”
“I have a good record on the Middle East events and always feel at home in the desert. The shorter Baja format means we will have to avoid any mistakes. But pushing for the win is the obvious goal.”
The Dutch duo of Erik Van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar finished 14th overall in this year’s Dakar Rally with Overdrive Racing after setting the sixth quickest time on the final stage. Van Loon, who runs an expanding meat packing company in his native Holland, has been a regular on rounds of the FIA World Cup for several seasons. He finished second overall at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and fourth at the Dakar the same year, the result marking a best ever finish for a Dutchman in the history of the event.
The fourth Toyota is crewed by the French pairing of Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot. The crew were sidelined from this year’s Dakar Rally by engine issues and are keen to get their FIA World Cup campaign off to a points-scoring start in the United Arab Emirates.
“We started the championship last weekend with a victory and everyone is happy with that,”
“Nasser is back in the game after his small Dakar. We are starting another campaign with him and we hope to deliver a second successive world title. Erik (Van Loon) has announced a small programme of four rallies in Dubai, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Spain and may announce more rallies later on. He is a strong driver and ideally suited to doing well in the FIA World Cup. Ronan (Chabot) retired on Dakar and we need to get him back in the game, with kilometres under his belt for his sponsor. It’s been a rush to get all the cars ready after they arrived back into Europe from the Dakar, but everyone is looking forward to a few challenging weeks ahead.”
The revised event ran in a one-day candidate format last December and was observed by FIA officials for potential inclusion in the 2017 FIA World Cup. Race officials also run the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and expanded the format of the Baja when it was accepted into the championship calendar.
Based at the Bab Al-Shams Arena, the competitive action gets underway with two selective sections on Friday, March 10 and a single stage through the Al-Qudra section of the Arabian Desert on Saturday, March 11.