Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is used to driving under pressure, but he and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini were pushed all the way to the finish of a thrilling Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the 2014 Middle East Rally Championships, by fellow countryman Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Mayo’s Killian Duffy on Friday and Saturday last. Separated by just 5.5 seconds at the start of the second day, Al-Attiyah pressed home a slight advantage once Al-Kuwari and Mayo navigator Killian Duffy suffered a drive shaft breakage. His winning margin was 30.1 seconds from Al-Kuwari and Duffy who finished in second place.
“We’re happy with our performance, especially since this is our first event since WRC in Spain last October,” said Duffy. “Nasser’s record here speaks for itself and we are delighted to have pushed him so hard.”
The Qatari Irish partnership had a big World Rally Championship (WRC ) season in 2013. With little experience at the world level, they won three WRC-2 rallies—Mexico, Argentina, and Australia—finishing second behind former Formula One driver Robert Kubica in the final season standings.
Kiltimagh’s John Higgins also made last weekend’s trip to Qatar. Not just there to keep Killian Duffy company on the 6,000km plane journey, John had the role of navigating Qatari rookie Juma Al Falasi. After undergoing extensive preparations over the last two months, Al Falasi got his first taste of competitive action in the desert. Competing in a Citroën DS3 R3, running as part of the Abu Dhabi Racing Team, the pair put in a solid performance over the two day event to finish in 11th place overall, gaining valuable experience along the way.