Attiyah extends Desert Challenge lead on a rainy day in Abu Dhabi
Qatar’s Nasser al Attiyah extended his overall cars lead in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (powered by Nissan) on Monday while Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla grabbed a slender advantage in a fascinating bikes tussle between three of the world’s top riders.
Accompanied by French co-driver Mathieu Baumel in a new Toyota Hilux, Al-Attiyah won the 279km Nissan Patrol Stage to increase his overnight advantage to 10 mins 21 secs over Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed al Rajhi and German co-driver Timo Gotschalk in a Mini All4Racing.
Russia’s Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov maintained hopes of a third successive Desert Challenge triumph in a Mini by climbing one place to third, although at 13 mins 30 secs off the pace will surely require Attiyah to find problems in order to achieve the hat-trick.
On a day when scattered showers and wind gave the Desert Challenge an unusual look and feel, Polish drivers Jakub Przygonski and Marek Dabrowski followed by four-times WRC runner-up Mikko Hirvonen of Finland completed the top six. After having to replace the gearbox on his Abu Dhabi Racing Mini before the start of the stage, the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi was unable to improve on his ninth place overall from the previous day.