See how Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah is gearing up for one of the best tests of body and mind.
(ISN) – Nasser Al-Attiyah, Dakar winner, rally champion and crack shot (he’s a champion in skeet shooting) is to return to the Dakar Rally in 2015 at the controls of a four-wheel-drive diesel MINI. He exclusively reveals what makes the Dakar such a unique challenge…
The Qatari driver has an impressive record at the race: second behind Carlos Sainz in 2010, won it in 2011 and finished third last year behind Nani Roma and new Peugeot signingStéphane Peterhansel.
Now Al-Attiyah is back for another crack at the Dakar, which for 2015 will consist of a 9,000km route, starting and finishing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and taking in visits to Bolivia and Chile.
The weapon of choice for Al-Attiyah will be the MINI ALL4 Racing, run by the Qatar Rally Team. The car packs a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine and four-wheel drive to help it tackle the South American desert dunes and mountain tracks.
With Al-Attiyah now preparing to take on his 11th Dakar, RedBull.com sat down with the cheery Qatari driver to see what it takes to tackle the world’s most epic race…
The Dakar is very special. It’s very hard to describe but it has everything, and it tests so many aspects of driving and teamwork, through amazing landscapes. It’s very close to my heart
So what makes the Dakar unlike any other race?
It’s not an obvious race: everything is quite complex so you need to think carefully and make the most of all the experience that you have. But to succeed you will need a strong car, a calm mind and plenty of energy.
Al-Attiyah already has experience in the MINI© Frederic Le Floch/DPPI
How does is compare to driving in the World Rally Championship?
The Dakar car is heavier and not quite as fast so it is not the same driving style, but still you need to have the rally feeling. So even though the cars are very different, all my time in other rally cars helps. The line for the braking, the acceleration, sliding the car on gravel… this is the same. You have to think long-term, but it’s still a sprint
What do you need to succeed in the Dakar?
It is all about finding the right balance of speed without taking too many risks: that is crucial. You have to think long-term, but it is still a sprint; in 2010, I finished second to Carlos Sainz by just two minutes.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “The Dakar is very special”© Frederic Le Floch/DPPI
What else do you need in the car?
A world class co-driver: Navigation is not easy. Mathieu Baumel and I haven’t driven the Dakar together, but we have driven together on some rallies and we won on the cross country championship twice this year. So we know each other well. He is a good guy, very professional, very calm. He has even started to learn a bit of Arabic, although I know if he suddenly starts speaking French in the car then it’s probably time to slow down!