Now it’s official! Nasser Al-Attiyah is the 2015 World Cup winner, thus repeating the success he celebrated in 2008 at the wheel of a BMW X3 CC built by X-raid. The MINI ALL4 Racing driver from Qatar already held an uncatchable lead since his win in Morocco’s Rally du Maroc a fortnight ago but it was only the Baja Portalegre 500 staged last week that represented the official end of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup season.
It was a season with many ups and also a few downs for the 44-year old. Together with his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel, he won 50 percent of the 10 FIA events. Particularly in the desert rallies the pairing proved to be virtually invincible and secured three of their five successes. Actually, Al-Attiyah’s tally even should feature an additional triumph but in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge he was disqualified later for too much spring travel! “This was the worst moment in the season,” Al Attiyah recalls. “But we quickly got over it, nevertheless, to come back better.” And indeed: the new champion won the two following World Cup rounds – one of them the Sealine Rally in his home country Qatar – right away. ”This, however, was my nicest race,” adds Al Attiyah. “On the one hand as it was my home race and on the other because we won it great style.”
Actually, Al-Attiyah who did not only compete in cross-country rallying, this year, can look back on an amazingly successful season: as a starter, he clinched his second win in the legendary Dakar Rally. Then he added the triumph in the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies to his tally. “With our wins in the World Cup and the Dakar we demonstrated that we are the currently most competitive crew in cross-country rallying,” the two-time Dakar winner says with a lot of self-confidence. At the moment, with two more rounds to go, he holds an uncatchable lead in the FIA Middle East Championship and also is the FIA WRC2 championship leader.
For X-raid it’s the ninth overall win in the FIA World Cup and the eighth in succession! Meanwhile, the preparations for the 2016 Dakar already are running flat out, in the team’s headquarters in Trebur. In late November, the team will take all the racing and service vehicles to the French sea port Le Havre and from there, they will be shipped to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the Dakar Rally will start on January 3, 2016.