Qatar’s Nasser Salih Al Attiyah won the Cyprus International Rally for a record-breaking sixth time on 29 September. The event is part of both the European Rally Championship (ERC) and the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
The two-day rally, with 12 Special Stages, covered 94.14 km.
Beseiged by wellwishers and fans asking for selfies with him, Nasser took time out earlier to speak exclusively to Marhaba, saying it was good to have ‘support from home’ in Cyprus:
Everything has gone really well this year and I am really happy to win here. Cyprus is one of my favourite rallies. Overall, this has been a great year for me; nine rallies, and nine wins. I want to thank the team and to Matthieu. To compete here in Cyprus and in the European Championship is really amazing because all the top drivers are here racing each other.’
In 2018, Nasser led the Cyprus Rally right up until the last stage, when his hopes were dashed by a puncture. This year, with a healthy time lead over the rest of the field, he decided to slow down slightly to manage the tyres.
We had some tyre degradation.The Cyprus Rally we know is always hard on tyres and we wanted to be careful. It was the right choice for us and a record sixth win here is very special. Cyprus Rally is one of the toughest races in the world, especially when we move into the mountains. Thank you to the organisers. It was a really good idea to go back to Troodos mountains this year. We were really happy because you can show your skills there.’
Until now, Nasser has never competed in more than a few ERC rallies each year, but he revealed to the media that the situation could change next year.
We are thinking to join the European [championship] next year, we will sit with the team and we will see. To compete in a different race [is the reason], we know everybody, the atmosphere in this European championship is really great, a family, and a lot of media. And when you win, you win the race.’
In addition to a possible ERC bid, Nasser also confirmed he hopes to represent Qatar in skeet shooting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Nasser has a massive and unbeatable points lead in the 2019 Middle East Rally Championship. Last year he equalled the record 14 wins of Dubai’s Mohammed bin Sulaiyem. It seems that is another record he has broken, though as yet his 2019 win has not been officially confirmed by the motor sports governing body, the FIA.
From Cyprus, Nasser and Matthieu were headed to North Africa for the the final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, the Rallye du Maroc (3-9 October).
Author: Gina Coleman
Copyright © Marhaba Information Guide. Reproduction of material from Marhaba Information Guide’s book or website without written permission is strictly prohibited. Using Marhaba Information Guide’s material without authorisation constitutes as plagiarism as well as copyright infringement.