Monday, 23 April 2012


The Qatari Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and his Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz Senra on Saturday scored a crushing victory for the Belgian Overdrive Racing Team in the 2012 Sealine Cross-Country Rally, round three of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

With a massive lead of 46min 09sec heading into the final 208km special stage, the Toyota Hilux duo did not need to take any risks, but still recorded the fastest time to take victory by a convincing margin of 49min 23sec. 

The Argentineans Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue confirmed the South African developed and built Hilux V8’s dominance by finishing second overall – precisely one week after the Castrol Toyota Hilux off-road team of Duncan Vos/Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor/Chris Birkin scored a 1-2 overall result in the Toyota Dealer 400 event in the Lydenburg, Mpumalanga region in South Africa.

Not only did the triumph in Qatar marked Al-Attiyah’s fourth successive victory in this event (2004, 2005, 2011 and 2012), it is also the first victory for Toyota in a long-distance round of the championship anywhere in the world. It also is the best result in the history of Overdrive Racing.
““This was a proper cross-country event. The stages were rough, challenging and never easy and that makes it so fantastic to win here,” said Al-Attiyah. “The Hilux was impressive, so much so that I would like to continue in the championship when it does not clash with my other racing commitments.”

Alvarez and Graue began the final day in second position, defending a slender 48-second lead over the title-chasing Emirati Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei. When the Mini driver was delayed shortly after the start with navigational problems, Alvarez was able to drive in a measured pace to conserve a superb runner-up spot – his best career result to date. 

“It was a great race for us coming from Argentina and, only having raced in South America, it was a big challenge. Ronnie did a great job and the car ran perfectly. My mechanics have been with me since the Dakar and they kept ‘Duma’ – as my Hilux is called – in top shape. A big thanks to the Overdrive team for this great result,” said Alvarez.

Qatar’s Faisal Al-Attiya and French navigator Matthieu Baumel finished the final stage in a solid fifth position overall. It was a superb performance by the inexperienced Al-Attiya, who was making his first appearance in an FIA World Cup event of this stature.

‘We could not have asked for a better result, scoring Toyota’s first FIA T1 win with the Hilux in its first long distance FIA race,” said Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin. “Nasser and Lucas were superb and they drove the Hiluxes to the maximum. Lucio again proved that he is a talent for the future with his second place and Faisal did a great job on his first event. 

“My team have been working flat out since we started the Toyota project and this result proves that they have done a great job, but we still have some development to do with our indispensable partners, Toyota Motorsport South Africa and Hallspeed,” said Fortin.


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