Interview with Nasser Al-Attiyah after Stage 6 of 2020 Dakar Rally.
Three Dakar titles are not enough for Nasser Al Attiyah.
The hunger for success and the pleasure of competition is what has driven him for decades.
The Qatar native splits his year between two passions: motor racing and of course shooting.
The bronze medallist in skeet at the London Olympics, also won the team championship at the Asian Championships, has qualified for his seventh Olympic Games in Tokyo ( not too far from the record of 10 participations held by Canadian equestrian competitor Ian Millar between the 1972 Munich Games and the 2012 London Olympiad!) where he will go for gold.
Since his first Dakar as an unknown in a Mitsubishi Pajero that he drove to 10th place in Senegal in 2004, Nasser has enjoyed tremendous success with Dakar victories in 2011, 2015 and last year, with three different cars, matched with 34 stage wins.
After racing for all the major teams in the sport (BMW, Volkswagen, Hummer and Mini), he joined the Overdrive team to bring Toyota its first triumph.
This season, once again, and in the company of long-time co-driver Mathieu Baumel, Al Attiyah was nearly unbeatable, winning nine of the ten rallies he competed in.
Only the Morocco Rally eluded him due to electrical issues after he hit a large rock.
This was a blessing in disguise because this concern will have been fixed for the Dakar.
The 49-year-old also had the pleasure of taking part in the Baja 1000, where he shared a Trophy Truck with another Dakar champion, Toby Price.
If we take into consideration that Al Attiyah knows Saudi Arabia very well and especially the type of dunes that the competitors will face in January, well he says it himself: yes, he is the favorite for edition 42.
A.: “My first Dakar win will always be the greatest, but the third victory was special.
We dominated from start to finish and to give Toyota its first victory was really special.
I had an excellent 2019 season with nine wins from 10 rallies.
I only retired in Morocco, but it was actually a good thing we had electric problems that way we could better prepare the car and anticipate other problems for the Dakar.
It was also fantastic to race in the Baja 1000, to discover another discipline and the American specialists were thrilled to see us.
I am ready for the Dakar and quite excited.
It is going to be completely different.
I know the terrain very well.
I took part in and won races in 2008 and 2011 in this country.
I know exactly what to expect.
The dunes are very tricky and totally different than those in South America.
It is more like Mauritania.
We have the same kind of dunes in Qatar and I grew up driving them with my father.
There are only 110kms between the dunes in Qatar in those in Saudi Arabia.
The terrain suits me to a tee.
So, yes, I believe that I am the favorite.
And it's not the best car that wins, it's the best driver.