Peterhansel edges Nasser to Cross Country title
Qatari driver narrowly misses crown as technical issues force him to retire on final day in Rally of Morocco.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah missed out on the driver’s title in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies by just one point after he failed to start the final stage of the Rally of Morocco even as his closest rival Stephane Peterhansel pulled off an impressive comeback.
French driver Peterhansel’s fifth place finish on the fifth and final day helped him garner 61 points while Nasser was left stranded on 60. Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, thus emerged overall champion while South Africa’s De Villiers Giniel claimed the Rally of Morocco title.
FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES – STANDINGS
- 1. Stephane Peterhansel (France) 61pts
- 2. Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (Qatar) 60pts
- 3. Reinaldo Varela (Brazil) 37pts
- 4. Yazeed Al Rajhi (Saudi Arabia) 35pts
- 5. Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) 30pts
The technical problem on the fourth day which forced Nasser and co-driver Mathieu Baumel to pull out midway through the fourth stage was not entirely solved. It saw the Qatari driver having to retire even before lining up for the start of Stage 5 on Wednesday.
While that ended all hopes of him winning the rally, his title chances were still alive. It required Peterhansel to finish below fifth place.
That did not happen though. The French driver pulled off an impressive performance when it mattered most and just about managed an overall fifth place, claiming the overall title.
It was a sad end for the Qatari driver as he had clocked impressive times and led the field for the first three days.
Third on the overall driver’s list was Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela who was way behind the first two with 37 points.
Meanwhile, Giniel, who had steadily climbed to the top of the standings on Day 4 after lingering in third and fourth on the first three days, was rewarded for his consistency.
It was not easy on the final day as Carlos Sainz of Spain ran him close in the 284km stage. The South African held on to his lead in the final few kilometres to emerge winner.
Sainz and his co-driver Lucas Cruz finished second.
Former Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished 27th in his first cross country rally, failing to improve on his seventh position in Stage 4 on Tuesday. The experience would have however done the former F1 driver a world of good considering that he is gearing up for the Dakar Rally in January.