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Nasser Al-Attiyah is close to the title of the Abu Dhabi Desert Rally

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Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah set the fastest time in the fourth stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Rally, which is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, representative of the ruler of Abu Dhabi in the Al Dhafra region.

Al-Attiyah managed, for the fourth consecutive day, with his navigator, Matteo Baumel, in a Toyota Hilux, to set the fastest time after the end of the fourth stage of “Abu Dhabi Aviation”, with a distance of 251 km, expanding the total time difference between him and Argentine driver Lucio Alvarez and his Spanish navigator Armand Monleon in a Toyota Hilux to 23 minutes. 48 seconds and close to winning the title.

A victory in the final stage would be enough to give Al Attiyah the last-ever drivers title in the World Cup Cross Country Rally Championship, before being promoted to the World Rally Red Championship next year.

But Al-Attiyah must avoid repeating his exit on the last day of 2017, or leaving the door open to title challengers such as Alvarez and Saudi Arabia’s Yazid Al-Rajhi, who is one hour and 17 minutes behind the Qatari.

Emirati Abdul Aziz Al-Ahly’s aspirations to win the title rose after he made great progress in the quad bike category on a disastrous day for Argentine Manuel Andujar, and another Emirati rider, Sultan Al Balushi, climbed to seventh place in the RalGP bike category.

“It was an interesting day, and the kind that gave the rally its reputation as rewarding the performances of the great racers, although at times very difficult,” said Mohammed bin Sulayem, president of the Emirates Motorsports and Motorcycle Federation, and vice-president of the FIA.

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While the Polish Jakub Przygonski wrestled to the end after a big loss of time, Al-Attiyah completed the stage and said, “We are very happy to take the lead, and if we can win the last stage, it will be good to get an extra point, which will help in the championship. We are learning every day something new, which is Good for me, Matthew and for the future.”