Dubai: Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah fended off a fierce first day challenge from compatriot Abdul Aziz Al Kuwari to lead the 2014 QMMF Qatar International Rally on Friday evening.
Partnered by Italian navigator Giovanni Bernacchini, Al Attiyah won three of the day’s six gravel special stages and reached the overnight halt just 5.5 seconds ahead of rival Al Kuwari and his Irish co-driver Killian Duffy. Al Kuwari also won three of the stages.
“I am happy with my performance, especially since this is my first event since WRC in Spain [last October],” said Al Kuwari. “But there is a long way to go. One rock, one corner and it could all change so quickly.”
The Ford Fiesta duo had been in a class of their own from the start of a day where only 10 of the 19 starters reached the finish and the list of retirements included Saudi drivers Yazeed Al Rajhi and Saeed Al Mouri, Kuwaiti Saleh Bin Eidan and Jordanian Ala’a Rasheed.
Tyre issues plagued the UAE’s Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi and Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson and the pair finished the day in a distant third place in their Team Abu Dhabi Citroen DS3 RRC, 2min 17.3sec behind Al Attiyah.
Kuwaiti Masoud Al Saleh climbed to fourth near the end when Rasheed stopped his Ford Fiesta.