Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah has confirmed that he will defend his Dakar Rally title next year and attributed his latest success in South America to experience gained competing in the WRC and as a professional skeet shooter.
The Qatari is the reigning WRC2 champion and an Olympic bronze medallist in skeet shooting, which he won at the London 2012 Games and he now plans to shoot for gold at Rio 2016.
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“In all of these disciplines, you have to believe in yourself and keep your nerve,” explained Nasser, referring to his WRC and shooting experiences.
“One thing is for sure: you cannot always go flat-out here [Dakar]. So the secret is knowing when to push and when not to push. This year, with the help of Matthieu [Baumel, co-driver], we got it exactly right.
“I am already looking forward to coming back next year to try again. I expect the competition will be even tougher after seeing the progression teams such as Peugeot have made this time. For sure 2016 will be a very interesting battle.
“This victory means a huge amount to me: from the start my feeling was that we were completely under control, but of course I could not relax for a second as we have seen in the past that anything can happen.”
The Qatari revealed that he had a very special reason to crave for a win, saying: “From the start of the rally I always said that I wanted to make this a special present for Matthieu and now we have succeeded.”
Baumel turned 39 on January 17, the last day of the Dakar Rally.
The Frenchman said: “Everything was stress-free, which made things a bit easier for us than the others and meant that I could concentrate completely on the navigation.
“Nasser was fantastic. There was a very calm atmosphere in the car, which allowed us to control things and lead from start to finish, even at difficult moments such as the stages at high altitude. It’s an extraordinary feeling to win – especially on my birthday!”
Meanwhile, president of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) Nasser Khalifa Al Attiyah congratulated Nasser on winning his second Dakar title, saying the Qatari had made both his country and the entire Arab world proud of the achievement.
The QMMF boss, who is also FIA vice president and deputy president of the FIM, noted that Nasser’s second Dakar title is the first trophy to be won by a Qatari in the New Year and expressed confidence that many more accolades are in store for Qatar in the coming days.
He credited Nasser’s past and recent successes to hard and sincere work, adding that the Dakar champion would be accorded a hero’s welcome on his return from South America.
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