Wednesday | 19 Nov 2014

Al-Attiyah’s anxious drive to WRC2 title

Nasser Al-Attiyah feared for his WRC2 title chances after an overly-cautious strategy at Wales Rally GB left him further down the standings than he had expected.

The Qatari began the rally with a 20-point lead in the championship and with only one rival, Jari Ketomaa, able to catch him. Even when Ketomaa built a healthy lead in Wales, Al-Attiyah and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini needed only to finish seventh or higher to seal the deal.

But after backing out of the fight with Ketomaa in favour of a safer route to the points, Al-Attiyah found himself languishing down in eighth for much of Saturday’s competition.

“We were a second slower than Jari on the first stage, and after the second I said to Giovanni okay, if we keep going like this, at this pace, there will be some mistake,” Al-Attiyah told “We had seven places to claim the championship. But then we found ourselves in eighth and I said oh no, this is not a good plan!

“We had to push, and then we got seventh after Sousa made a mistake. Then we got sixth and I said okay, we keep this position now because the guys behind were too far away, and I didn’t care about catching Kruuda ahead. I didn’t want to be racing, the most important thing was winning the championship.”

But having got to a title-winning position Al-Attiyah was unable to relax. “It was very, very hard," he said. "Never before have I asked Giovanni to repeat the pace notes, but I did it here all the time. “Are we sure about this corner…” you know? It knocked me completely out of my rhythm and sometimes I lost my concentration. Many times I came in too soft, and when you drive like that the car is not precise. It’s definitely better to go on at a good pace.”

Every single corner, we were thinking about the finish,” added Bernacchini. “In the conditions, especially in the fog on the last stage, it’s easy to make a stupid mistake and lose everything. Nasser asked me to repeat the notes, but for me as well, I was saying: “Hairpin, hairpin, hairpin is coming!” It’s not easy.”

Al-Attiyah will confirm his WRC plans next week, but is confident he will return to defend his title. “I would like to come to WRC2, especially to start with Mexico, my favourite rally, then do Argentina and Portugal. I have meetings in Qatar soon and next week I will know exactly,” he said. 

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