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Cross Country – Al Attiyah targets seventh home win on the Qatar Cross Country Rally

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The FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies launches into action this weekend with the opening event of the five round series, the Qatar Cross Country Rally (22-27 February). Considered one of the most challenging rallies as far as navigation is concerned, the season-opener - which takes the contenders over the rough and rocky desert land across the length and breadth of the State - is set to test even the most hardened competitors.

This year, the series will again take the contenders across the globe and over some of the most stunning and diverse terrain the world has to offer. Five events make up the calendar, with the inclusion of a Marathon Rally for the first time since 2001. New for 2020 are amended groups and classes, paving the way for SSVs (side by side vehicles), drivers and teams now able to compete in their own category for a dedicated Trophy. T1, T2 and T3 (formerly T3P) Groups remain, the SSVs (formerly T3S) will compete in this newly-created T4 category with the trucks now competing in T5. Leg points have also been introduced across all the driver and co-driver category World Cups, ensuring crews who have retired on a leg can re-start and have something to fight for on subsequent days.

Nasser Al Attiyah and French navigator Mathieu Baumel top the entry list for the Qatari’s home round. Al Attiyah has already won the event six times, in addition to the 2011 candidate event for the series, and the Toyota Hilux crew will be gunning for another victory to kick start their 2020 campaign. After a measured drive on last year’s event, Yazeed Al Rajhi will be aiming to topple the home favourite and move one step further up the podium having finished second in 2019. This year, the Saudi Arabian will also be partnered by Britain’s Michael Orr in the Overdrive Toyota Hilux. Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk switch cars this season and the Polish/German crew will be piloting another Hilux, the Pole hoping for a repeat of his 2018 Qatar victory.

Mohammed Al Meer, with Ukrainian co-driver Tsyro Dmytro, won last year’s T2 Trophy with maximum points on two of the four rounds. He moves into the top category for his home event and the Qatari will be fielding a T1 Chevrolet Buggy. Hungarians Balazs Szalay and Laszlo Bunkozci are back in action in an Opel Grandland X. The Saudi Arabian Nissan Patrol crew of Khaled Ahmed Alferaihi/Wleed Alfiuam and the Qatari/Russian pairing of Abdulla Al-Rabban/Igor Chudaykin round out the leading crews in the T1 category.

The T3 category is always fiercely fought and Fedor Vorobyev and Kirill Shubin lead the 11-strong field of contenders. The Russians finished last year’s cross country rally season second in the category, won the Baja Trophy for T3 drivers, and kick-started this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas campaign in fine style two weeks ago with a category victory on their home round of the series. The winning duo, in the new OT3 Overdrive vehicle, will however face stiff competition from a host of national and international crews in Can-Am, Polaris, G-Force and OT3 machinery. South Racing’s Austin Jones/Kellon Walch will field the latest T4 version of the Can-Am Maverick.

The high-class facilities at Doha’s Losail Sports Arena will be the base for Rally Headquarters with the stadium grounds hosting the bivouac. Six selective sections covering 1,444.99 competitive kilometres lay in wait and, in a change this year, the atmospheric Souq Waqif in downtown Doha will host the start and finish ceremonies.


Total distance   

2,215.04 km

Selective section distance:

1,444.99 km (65.24%)

Number of selective sections:



Nasser Al Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel

Toyota Hilux

Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr

Toyota Hilux

Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk

Toyota Hilux

Mohammed Al Meer/Tsyro Dmytro

Chevrolet Buggy

Balazs Szalay/Laszlo Bunkozci

Opel Grandland X

Khaled Ahmed Alferaihi/Wleed Alfiuam

Nissan Patrol

Abdulla Al-Rabban/Igor Chudaykin


Fedor Vorobyev/Kirill Shubin

OT3 Overdrive

Abel Abdulla/Jean-Michel Polato

G-Force T3GF

Aleksey Shmotev/Andrey Rudnitski

Can-Am Maverick


Saturday 22 February


Scrutineering, Losail Sports Arena                            

From 08:30 hrs

Pre-event Press Conference, Souq Waqif

19:45 hrs

Ceremonial Start, Souq Waqif



Sunday 23 February – Leg 1


Start of SS1 (171.25 kilometres)

10:55 hrs

First car arrives bivouac              

14:00 hrs


Monday 24 February – Leg 2


Start of SS2 (334.25 kilometres)

08:50 hrs

First car arrives bivouac

13:40 hrs


Tuesday 25 February – Leg 3


Start of SS3 (340.28 kilometres)

08:40 hrs

First car arrives bivouac

13:15 hrs


Wednesday 26 February – Leg 4


Start of SS4 (219.79 kilometres)

08:35 hrs

Start of SS5 (124.84 kilometres)

12:00 hrs

First car arrives bivouac

14:55 hrs


Thursday 27 February – Leg 5


Start of SS6 (254.58 kilometres)

08:30 hrs

Parc Fermé, Losail Sports Arena

11:50 hrs

Post event Press Conference, Souq Waqif

19:45 hrs

Prize-Giving and podium ceremony, Souq Waqif

20:05 hrs