The Superstar of Rally Basks in the Glory of His First DAKAR Title
Nasser Al-Attiyah, the much beloved Qatari prince, battled with 2010 DAKAR champion Carlos Sainz to earn his first ever DAKAR rally in his VW Race Touareg 3. It was a fine battle and a decisive one after the sandy dunes of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile provided Al-Attiyah the opportunity to take the lead from Sainz, who had led the rally from very early on. Both Al-Attiyah and Sainz have had very heated battles on the stages last year and now, especially after a very close physical day on the course of stage 8 from Antofagasta to Copiapó, Chile, the small town where the 33 Chilean miners had been trapped for 69 days in 2010. After that stage the drivers had a very animated exchange at the finish line. Growing up in the sandy desert of Qatar, Al-Attiyah has the edge to succeed in the South American stages of the Dakar, which crossed the Atacama Desert several times midway through the rally.
Al-Attiyah waged his war of “Yalla Yalla” against stable mate Sainz last year in the rally as well, so this year was especially sweat for the 40 year old, who is also an Olympic skeet shooter for his home country. The humbleness and gratitude this superstar portrays has caused him to become one of the most popular motorsports figures on the planet and his prowess to earn the respect and admiration of his followers is only going to grow as he proceeds into the coming season. When he speaks to the media, it is always with a positive and optimistic smile and a contagious attitude of friendliness and sportsmanship.
“Yalla Yalla” is Nasser’s way of meaning, “Let’s go. Full Attack”, and this is what separates the top drivers from those finishing off the podium. According to VW’s Motorsports team manager Chris Nissan, the top drivers in the rally are those who spare no expense at taking chances when cresting blind ridges and taking every risk on blitzing some of the longer downhill tracks. In one such dramatic descent to the finish area of stage 5 in Iquique, Chile, Nasser’s “Full Yalla Yalla” at 200km down a 3000’ sand dune, proved to be a crowd pleaser. Interestingly, before the final stage 13 to from Cordoba to Baradera, Argentine, Nasser promised only “half yalla yalla” because of his wide lead over Giniel De Viliers and Carlos Sainz.
For VW it is a third straight victory at the DAKAR after bidding its first campaign with the Touareg in 2004. The dominance of the VW team is exemplified by the Germans’ notoriously meticulous eye for precision and as well as perfection. Nowhere else in the bivouac is there a more capable and competent team of engineers, drivers and support staff and this is the reason for the VW team sweeping the podium at the DAKAR. Accordingly, the German standard for excellence transcends to VW Motorsports selection of the drivers and co-drivers they enlist for the world’s most prestigious rally. Throughout the entire rally and beyond, the VW drivers make themselves readily available to the crowd and to the media, something that other motorsports disciplines and team greatly lack.
To celebrate their third straight DAKAR title and the sweeping of the podium, VW hosted a special reception after the podium in Buenos Aires that honored the team and the drivers who made this victory possible for this truly dominant and exceptional motorsports program. Although the future of VW Motorsports’ objectives for DAKAR are totally unclear at this time, we do know that each of their 4 drivers will have every opportunity to return to the DAKAR in 2012 regardless of whether VW continues it Dakar Rally program.