- SA developed Toyota Hilux bakkies claim first, second and fifth positions
- First ever FIA World Cup cross-country rally victory for Toyota
- Second one-two finish for Hilux V8 racing vehicles within a week
The Qatari Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and his Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz Senra on Saturday scored a crushing victory for the Belgian Overdrive Racing Team in the 2012 Sealine Cross-Country Rally, round three of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
With a massive lead of 46min 09sec heading into the final 208km special stage, the Toyota Hilux duo did not need to take any risks, but still recorded the fastest time to take victory by a convincing margin of 49min 23sec.
The Argentineans Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue confirmed the South African developed and built Hilux V8’s dominance by finishing second overall – precisely one week after the Castrol Toyota Hilux off-road team of Duncan Vos/Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor/Chris Birkin scored a 1-2 overall result in the Toyota Dealer 400 event in the Lydenburg, Mpumalanga region in South Africa.
Not only did the triumph in Qatar marked Al-Attiyah’s fourth successive victory in this event (2004, 2005, 2011 and 2012), it is also the first victory for Toyota in a long-distance round of the championship anywhere in the world. It also is the best result in the history of Overdrive Racing.
“This was a proper cross-country event. The stages were rough, challenging and never easy and that makes it so fantastic to win here,” said Al-Attiyah. “The Hilux was impressive, so much so that I would like to continue in the championship when it does not clash with my other racing commitments.”
Alvarez and Graue began the final day in second position, defending a slender 48-second lead over the title-chasing Emirati Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei. When the Mini driver was delayed shortly after the start with navigational problems, Alvarez was able to drive in a measured pace to conserve a superb runner-up spot – his best career result to date.
“It was a great race for us coming from Argentina and, only having raced in South America, it was a big challenge. Ronnie did a great job and the car ran perfectly. My mechanics have been with me since the Dakar and they kept ‘Duma’ – as my Hilux is called – in top shape. A big thanks to the Overdrive team for this great result,” said Alvarez.
Qatar’s Faisal Al-Attiya and French navigator Matthieu Baumel finished the final stage in a solid fifth position overall. It was a superb performance by the inexperienced Al-Attiya, who was making his first appearance in an FIA World Cup event of this stature.
‘We could not have asked for a better result, scoring Toyota’s first FIA T1 win with the Hilux in its first long distance FIA race,” said Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin. “Nasser and Lucas were superb and they drove the Hiluxes to the maximum. Lucio again proved that he is a talent for the future with his second place and Faisal did a great job on his first event.
“My team have been working flat out since we started the Toyota project and this result proves that they have done a great job, but we still have some development to do with our indispensable partners, Toyota Motorsport South Africa and Hallspeed,” said Fortin.
Positions on SS4 (208.63km) - unofficial @ 11.55hrs
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Lucas Cruz Senra (ESP) Toyota Hilux 1h 53m 21s
2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Vitaliy Yevtyekhov (RUS) G-Force Proto 1h 53m 38s
3. Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA)/Konstantin Zlitstov (RUS) Schlesser Original 1h 56m 32s
4. Lucio Alvarez (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Toyota Hilux 1h 56m 35s
5. Boris Gadasin (RUS)/Dan Shchemel (RUS) G-Force Proto 1h 57m 05s
6. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei (UAE)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 2h 03m 32s
7. Ilya Kusnetsov (RUS)/Roman Elagin (RUS) BMW X3 CC 2h 04m 21s
8. Faisal Al-Attiya (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota HiLux 2h 18m 00s
Overall positions after SS4 - unofficial @ 11.55hrs
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Lucas Cruz Senra (ESP) Toyota Hilux 11h 20m 59s
2. Lucio Alvarez (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Toyota Hilux 12h 10m 22s
3. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei (UAE)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 12h 18m 07s
4. Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA)/Konstantin Zlitstov (RUS) Schlesser Original 12h 21m 48s
5. Faisal Al-Attiya (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota HiLux 13h 02m 48s
6. Boris Gadasin (RUS)/Dan Shchemel (RUS) G-Force Proto 13h 03m 02s
7. Ilya Kusnetsov (RUS)/Roman Elagin (RUS) BMW X3 CC 13h 23m 37s
8. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol 16h 26m 40s
9. Reinaldo Varala (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Nissan Patrol 16h 43m 23s
10. Vadym Nesterchuk (UKR)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Toyota LC200 20h 30m 41s
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