Articles > Local & Regional Automotive Newsprintwrite comment


Al-Attiyah becomes first Arab in 15 years to win UAE Desert Challenge

31.10.2008 - Dubai/Cairo/Trebur-Astheim

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah clinched one of the most convincing start to finish victories in the history of cross-country rallying to claim the win in the 2008 UAE Desert Challenge and also seal the FIA World Cup title for his Trebur-based BMW X-raid team on Friday.

The Qatari and Swedish co-driver Tina Th?¶rner were in a different class to the rest of the field and pressed home their superiority from the start of the opening super special stage last Sunday.

The winning margin was a staggering 4h 27m 45s, as Al-Attiyah became the first Arab driver since Qatar's Saeed Al-Hajri in 1993 to clinch victory in the traditional final round of the FIA World Cup across the remote deserts of the UAE.

He won every section over the six days and would still have finished first overall had all the other competitors not tackled the final leg, such had been his massive advantage.

The outright win for X-raid's AlgoDyne Green Racing Team also sealed the second FIA world title of the season for the jubilant Qatari. After his recent success in the FIA International Cup for Bajas, Al-Attiyah will be hoping to wrap up a unique hat-trick of FIA titles when he tackles the Troodos round of the FIA Middle East championship in Cyprus next week.

X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin had climbed back to fifth position after an impressive stage time on Thursday, but they were forced to miss the final leg when Leonid withdrew because of important business commitments.

"It is a fantastic feeling to win the Desert Challenge," said Al-Attiyah.
"This is one of the events I wanted to win badly and to follow Saeed on to the list of winners is a great feeling. It was a long and difficult rally, but the whole team has been superb and I am delighted for Sven (Quandt) and everyone at X-raid that we have the world title.

"It was so disappointing to lose the win last year on the last stage. Of course I thought about that, but we were under no pressure today and I just wanted to take no risks and ease off a little towards the end."

"We were all a little nervous this morning because of what happened last year with Nasser on the last stage," said a delighted X-raid's team director Sven Quandt. "But it was a great relief to see him cross the finish line. It has obviously been a great week for us, but there are still a few small things to sort out. We may test again in Europe, Morocco or Dubai again in the next few weeks, but we can savour this winning moment now.

"That is three titles for X-raid this year. Nasser clinched the Baja Championship, Filipe Campos won the Portuguese title and now Nasser has won the (FIA) World Cup. We are making very good progress. These are exciting times for us."

The signs were positive from the outset, as Al-Attiyah emerged well clear at the first passage control in the opening 118.60km selective section. The memories of last year's cruel luck appeared to have been banished. He finished the special 13 minutes clear of second-placed Pole Krzysztof Holowczyc and headed towards the final 166.25km desert stage, the scene of last year's fateful problems.

The Qatari passed the final passage control firmly on track for an historic win and he sealed his place in the history books by recording a clean sweep of the stage victories with a final time of 1h 52m 07s on the closing selective.

It had been a superb performance by the entire X-raid team and a perfect way to round off the competitive programme before January's Dakar Rally.

2008 UAE Desert Challenge

Positions on stage 5:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Th?¶rner (S) BMW X3 CC 1h
11m 13s
2. Ali Matar (UAE)/Mohab Mahrous (UAE) Nissan Patrol 1h 24m 41s
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara 1h
25m 01s
4. Glen Reid(UAE)/Haydn Walker (UAE) Nissan Patrol 1h 25m 06s
5. Pal Wallentheim (S)/Dan-Olov Ohlsson (S) Isuzu D-Max 1h 25m 46s
6. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol 1h
26m 26s

Positions on stage 6:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Th?¶rner (S) BMW X3 CC 1h
52m 07s
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara 2h
04m 25s
3. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol 2h
15m 03s
4. Glen Reid(UAE)/Haydn Walker (UAE) Nissan Patrol 2h 22m 05s
5. Amadeus Matzker (D)/Lee Palmer (AUS) Land Rover 100 2h 23m 41s
6. Pal Wallentheim (S)/Dan-Olov Ohlsson (S) Isuzu D-Max 2h 27m 22s

Final positions after leg 5:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Th?¶rner (S) BMW X3 CC 18h
22m 46s
2. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol 22h
50m 31s
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara 23h
50m 14s
4. Joseph Rosso (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pathfinder 26h
35m 39s
5. Abdullah Al-Herais (UAE)/Haleem Bin Zayed (UAE) Nissan Patrol 27h
05m 39s
6. Ali Al-Shawi (UAE)/Yayha Al-Amri (UAE) Nissan Patrol 27h 38m 29s
7. Aurelijus Petraitis (LT)/Antanas Juknevicius (LT) Oscar 27h
56m 23s

write comment

Readers Comments:

No comments yet

Related articles:


The biggest automotive group and Road Safety initiative in Egypt and the Middle East
Want to sell your used car or buy one? Then check out our new used car market section here!

Mohamed Sheta on social media:

Looking for a good service center or aftersales customer service? Did you have any bad experience with your car dealer or service center? Then check our 'automotive evaluation charts' here!

Latest Test-Drive Video and CEO Interview

Ford EcoSport Titanium Test-Drive ... Part 1

Nile TV

Mohamed Sheta
Every Wednesday in The Breakfast Show on
8.30am – 09.00am LIVE


Every Thursday
on Egypt's most influential radio network:
Radio DRN 93.7 FM
Live from 6-8pm

Radio DRN 93.7 FM

Autoarabia Group @

Join Autoarabia Group @, racing, tuning and events in Egypt and Middle East
Is Egyptian car market corrupt or collapsing?
Is the Egyptian car market collapsing or is it just a corrupt and unprofessional car market? This is surely one of the most asked questions these days. Everybody is asking ...


AutoArabia Consulting

Only for company requests. For readers letters and complaints kindly click here

International Engine of the Year Award

Middle East Car of the Year


IRF seminar

Road Safety & Public/Private Partnership
International Road Federation