Doha, 13 December 2020 - Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah edged into a lead of 2min 50sec over Carlos Sainz after the opening 251.81km Radifah selective section of Hail Baja 1, round four of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, yesterday.
The two triple Dakar winners were the quickest duo through the latter sections of the stage with the Toyota Hilux driver snatching the stage win from his Mini Buggy rival.
Sainz’s team-mate and Dakar legend Stéphane Peterhansel rounded off the podium places after an early puncture, the Frenchman pushing local star Yazeed Al Rajhi down to fourth place in the second of the Toyotas.
Overnight leader Al Attiyah said: “It was a very good day for us and we start in a good position behind Carlos and we were fighting with Carlos. Last 40km we are together and he touch us two times….we were together all the way. I am happy to win the stage.”
The day’s competitive section wound its way through the An Nafud desert to the north-west of Hail with the bikes able to refuel close to the passage control after 165.77km.
Al Attiyah, Seaidan and Sainz were the FIA event pace-setters through 66km. Russian Vladimir Vasilyev overtook FIA Baja title rival Bernhard Ten Brinke early in the stage, while Poland’s Jakub Przygonski dropped 12 minutes to the leaders and fell further behind as the stage progressed. Al Attiyah, Sainz and Al Rajhi headed their rivals after 108km and 165km.
They reached the finish in the top four places, with Vasilyev taking fifth, Ten Brinke sixth after a late slow puncture and Denis Krotov finishing eighth after reported broken suspension delays for local driver Yasir Seaidan cost him a good finish.
Ten Brinke said: “We were running a bit low on fuel towards the finish and could not push in the last 100km. The speed was okay, but I was impressed with the speed of the first two. I think they took some risks. We were more like on the Dakar speed and they were on a sprint speed…..”
Vasilyev added: “My speed was good but, after 50km, I needed to open the road. It was not easy and it was an advantage for those following behind to catch me.”
Nineteen bikes and 18 quads eventually made it to the start. Yamaha’s official factory rider Adrien van Beveren cruised into a comfortable lead in the motorcycle category on his WRF 450.
He pulled away from the start and was 9min 08sec in front of Poland’s Konrad Dabrowski after 66km and 19min 19sec in front at the refuelling.
Today, the second section of 275.54km starts close to Jubbah at 09.04hrs (first FIA car) and heads further west of Hail before looping through the desert to finish close to the village of Q’na. There will be two passage controls after 147.29km and 261.46km.