Al-Attiyah set for seasonal bow

Nasser Al-Attiyah set to make his first WRC outing of the year when the series heads for Mexico
Nasser Al-Attiyah says he is looking forward to making his first appearance of the World Rally Championship season this coming weekend in Mexico.

Al-Attiyah was forced to miss Rally Sweden after falling ill, with Matthew Wilson called up to replace him at the wheel of the Qatar World Rally Team Ford Fiesta.

The Qatari racer has now returned to fitness however and will be making his seventh outing in Mexico when he takes to the stages this weekend, with the 42-year-old hoping for a solid start to his season.

“I'm feeling much better now and really looking forward to Rally Mexico,” he said. “We had a great test and really gelled with the car and the team so we're looking good for the rally.

“Experience is always very important so having competed here six times already I'll be able to share some of that with Mads [Ostberg], Evgeny [Novikov] and Thierry [Neuville]. But to be honest, I don't think they'll need so much advice! They're all very good drivers with a big future ahead of them and each of them has already proven that they have the pace to do extremely well.

“The [Rally] Mexico stages are very good and actually amongst some of my favourite in the championship. Last year we finished strongly, and this year I hope to do even better and that at least one of our cars makes it on to the podium.”

Team-mate in the Qatar World Rally Team line-up Thierry Neuville will be competing on the event for only the second time and the Belgian admitted that a good qualifying result could be key to his chances of a strong result.

“Like in Sweden, we need to take a clever approach for this rally. Last year we proved that we have the speed, but this year it's all about consistency and making it to the end with no mistakes.

“Of all the events this year, this rally is not the most difficult but it is certainly one of the most beautiful. The biggest challenge will be the long stage on the final day [Guanajuatito]. It's an amazing stage, but you need to work extremely hard to keep the concentration.

“Road position is also always very significant so a good result in Qualifying is important. That's the first goal, then a good first day with no mistakes. Although we are still finding confidence with the car – and this will be our first gravel event with the Fiesta – I am really looking forward to next week. If we find ourselves in a position to fight for a good result then that is certainly what we'll do!”

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