|New intention: Dakar-winner Nasser Al Attiyah to start in a race-boat|
His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani this week announced that the Arab world’s number one rally driver and former Dakar-winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will join the Qatar Team in November’s Key West World Championships in Florida.
Al-Attiyah will team up with his former Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini and enter the Key West races in a Mercury-engined set-up boat. There are three races during the Key West festival, which takes place on November 3-10.
“I am delighted to welcome Nasser aboard our team as our ‘wingman’,” enthused Sheikh Hassan, who clinched the Key West World Championship title with Steve Curtis in 2012 and is hoping for a repeat in Al Adaa’am 96 this year.
“He has been a great ambassador for motor sport and Qatar in recent years for his remarkable achievements in rally cars and we are both looking forward to Key West and the challenges that lie ahead for both of us. Nasser is excited about the new challenge and, in Matteo, he has an experienced team-mate to help him learn the ropes.”
On a global scale, Al-Attiyah is the most successful Arab rally driver of all time. An outright winner of the punishing Dakar Rally in 2011, Al-Attiyah has also won 48 FIA Middle East Rally Championship events, eight regional titles in the past 10 years and numerous cross-country rallies around the globe.
The Qatari also won the FIA Production World Rally Championship in 2006 and the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in 2008. His career-best finish in the FIA World Rally Championship was fourth in the Rally of Portugal.
Away from rally driving, Al-Attiyah is a keen follower of many forms of sport and is also a prolific shooter. He represented Qatar at the 2004 Olympic Games in clay pigeon shooting and came fourth. At London 2012, he won the bronze medal for Qatar after a shoot-off against Valeriy Shomin and he has also featured strongly in several Asian Games.
“I spoke with Sheikh Hassan during the Sealine Rally in Qatar in April where my team used his workshop for the race,” said Al-Attiyah. “I saw all the boats and we discussed things and he suggested that I should take part in a race. It sounded like a great idea and we both agreed it would be good for the media to see a rally driver taking part in a boat race and it went on from there.
“I am really looking forward to it. I will take part in the Key West race and then the plan is to join the team again at the new Qatar Cup next year.” The QMSF-backed Qatar Team is hoping to field three boats at the Key West World Championships in November.
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis will be hoping for success in their new turbine-engined Al Adaa’am 96. Al-Attiyah and Nicolini will drive the second boat and Ali Al-Neama and a yet-to-be-decided partner will be present in Spirit of Qatar 20 entered in the competitive Superboat category. Mohammed Al-Nasser has XCat racing commitments in China.
2013/08/27 | 22:08 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS