The gravel event, the penultimate round of this year’s WRC from 18-21 October, clashes with a test Al-Attiyah is due to undertake in the United States in readiness for his Dakar Rally assault in January 2013. As a result he’s handed the keys of his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen DS3 WRC to Thierry Neuville, who deputised for Al-Attiyah on Brother Rally New Zealand in June when Al-Attiyah was taking a break from his WRC schedule to win bronze in the men’s skeet shooting section of the London 2012 Olympics.
“Although my involvement with Citroen in the world championship is very important, I have to make choices and I have to work on the development the buggy that we are preparing for use in the 2013 Dakar Rally,” explained Al-Attiyah, currently 11th in the WRC standings. “The first test will be 15 October in America so Thierry [Neuville] will drive my car in Sardinia. The buggy has a seven-litre V8 rear engine, rear-wheel drive and uses a special material for the chassis.”
Al-Attiyah also spoke of his admiration for Neuville, adding: “Thierry showed his potential the first time we entrusted the Qatar World Rally Team’s Citroen DS3 WRC to him. He scored some important points for the team and learned a lot from taking part in Rally New Zealand. When we were looking for someone to defend the team’s colours in Sardinia, with his talent, he was the obvious choice.”
Al-Attiyah and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini will be on WRC duty in France and Spain.