Al-Attiyah apology for FIA Dakar criticism
Sunday 8th January, 2023 - 9:55am
Nasser Al-Attiyah has issued an apology for his criticism of the FIA over Audi’s mid-Dakar power increase.
The RS-Q e-trons and other entries in the T1.U subclass for alternative energy-powered vehicles were granted an extra eight kilowatts effective from Stage 5 of the event under the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship’s Equivalence of Technology system.
The T1+ Toyota Hilux driver would later reason that “It’s not the right moment to change something, to give to the other teams more horsepower.
“But this is my opinion. This is a motorsport.
“Everything gets fixed before Dakar, and everybody stays in the same level.
“I’m not against Audi. I’m not against BRX [Bahrain Raid Xtreme, which fields Prodrive Hunters in T1+ also]. But you need to keep the spirit of Dakar.”
Ahead of the latest stage, Al-Attiyah has now apologised via social media, citing the “heat of the moment” for his outburst.
“In the heat of the moment, I reacted harshly to the FIA’s EOT decision,” wrote the Qatari.
“I like to defend my title fairly, and at the first instant, the decision did not seem fair.
“I now understand the situation better, and would like to apologise for my earlier post.”
Already a four-time Dakar champion, it will take a dramatic turn of events for Al-Attiyah to be denied a fifth this year considering he leads by more than an hour with seven stages down and seven to go.
Audi’s hopes, on the other hand, have been dashed after a series of mishaps, the most dramatic of which occurred on Stage 6.
Then, both Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz landed with a thud when they separately flew off a 10- to 15-metre high dune within moments of each other.
Peterhansel was knocked out by the impact and his navigator Edouard Boulanger broke a vertebra, while Sainz failed to finish the special due to suspension damage.
He resumed with an 18-hour penalty, only to lose hours more when he stopped to donate his suspension to his other team-mate, Mattias Ekstrom, who hit a rock during Stage 7.
Ekstrom is now Audi’s leading driver, yet 20th overall at almost five hours off the pace.