Nasser Al-Attiyah did not need long to get used to his new ride in the Prodrive Hunter, and was already a race winner in just his second start for the team.
His début with Prodrive at the Baja Portalegre 500, just two weeks after clinching the World Rally-Raid Championship in his final race for Toyota, was overshadowed by a penalty and lost time to a damaged windshield wiper in the mud of Portugal that relegated him to fifth. The Dubai International Baja, on the other hand, presented wide-open dunes akin to most rounds on the W2RC calendar like the Dakar Rally that gave him a chance to showcase the Hunter’s potential as he won the first two stages before being edged out by Yazeed Al-Rajhi in Stage #3.
Like in the W2RC, Al-Attiyah beat Al-Rajhi for the overall win by over five minutes. The victory also put the bow atop a dominant campaign in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, where Al-Attiyah never finished worse than second in his four Bajas for Toyota and had twice as many points as João Ferreira entering the finale in Dubai. It is his second Bajas title after 2008, while he became the first driver to win a World Cup with two different manufacturers as well as the first to complete the triple crown of a World Cup, World Championship, and Dakar Rally in the same year.
“We really enjoyed being in the car as we worked hard to make a good result for the team too,” said Al-Attiyah. “We learned a lot for the next step, the Dakar. Thank you to the team who got the car here and who have engineered it for us to take this win. It’s a great start to take this victory and get ready for Dakar and think we can make it in Saudi Arabia to win the Dakar in January.”
Ferreira won the T4 class in his first Baja in a Can-Am Maverick for South Racing ahead of European Cup T4 regular Amerigo Ventura. The former, who normally races Bajas in a Mini and intends to continue doing so for the 2024 Portuguese Cross-Country Championship, also won on début in the W2RC’s T4 class at the Rallye du Maroc in October.