Outside of Barcelona, the Katari owns large lands. Al-Attiyah, who is also a two-time bronze medalist in skeet shooting at the Olympic Games, has had various rally tracks built on his property in the hills of Catalonia in order to be able to practice his favorite sport in peace: on these he practices and tests as he pleases, in the so-called Nasser Racing Camp.
Here the four-time winner of the Dakar Rally (2011, 2015, 2019, 2022) shows me what he and his Toyota can do. Al-Attiyah’s German shepherd takes the Dakar monster’s passenger seat on the way to the track. Well, it can’t be that bad, I think to myself in my naivety. Barely half an hour later, I’ve learned better!
When I tell my prominent chauffeur after our devilish ride that they will probably find some “Al Attiyah notches” in the next X-ray examination of my neck, he laughs heartily. The hits that the now 51-year-old and his Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ take, especially when jumping under full load and at high speed, are immense. My neck hurts after a few demo laps – how you can put yourself through this torture at the Dakar Rally for two weeks and, above all, over 500 kilometers every day, is beyond me. Just like the fact that the car’s suspension can withstand it all.
However, nothing compares to the hussar ride that Al-Attiyah performs a little later with me on board in his Dakar winning vehicle: We fly meters high through the air, dive 15 meters further back deep and hard into the ground and pull such a cloud of dust behind us that some of the grains are still in the air on the next lap.
Al-Attiyah is also aware of the strain on man and machine: “Of course it causes mental and physical pain. But this has been my favorite race since I was 15 years old and winning it makes me very proud,” he says with a look to the legendary Dakar. As I get out of the car, I want to know from this year’s winner what percentage he gives for a trip like this with media representatives on board. Al-Attiyah grins: “I’m not taking any chances. About 60 percent.” I shake my head in disbelief: If that was 60 percent, I don’t even want to know what 100 looks like…