Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel secured the FIA Bajas World Cup title on their return to the Baja Portalegre 500 (Rally of Portugal), finishing despite finishing in 5th place.
Al Attiyah, a five-time Dakar Rally winner and who also became two-time World Rally-Raid champion this year, made his debut behind the wheel of the Prodrive Hunter T1+, with which he will compete in the next Dakar, scheduled for January 2024 in Saudi Arabia.
The cancellation of the Baja in Jordan, due to the instability in that region, ended up awarding the Bajas world title to Portugal, when there was only one race left to compete, in Dubai.
On his return to Portalegre, where he had been second twice, Al Attiyah was in the fight for the top spots, but on Saturday morning he was given a 20-minute penalty, for three different infractions.
After appealing the decision and being heard by the Sports Commissioners, with analysis of the GPS record, two of the infractions initially applied were removed, one of them remaining, with a 3-minute penalty. This ‘promoted’ Al Attiyah to 5th place, 4m26s behind the winner, Joao Ferreira.
Yazeed Al Rajhi of Saudi Arabia and his German navigator Timo Gottschalk in Toyota Hilux Overdrive were runners-up at the rally finishing 2:21.6 minutes behind the winners (4:54:16.3).