Monday, May 27, 2024

Nasser Al-Attiyah plans FIA President campaign

Nasser Al-Attiyah has accomplished much in his racing career as a five-time Dakar Rally winner, the reigning World Rally-Raid Champion, and sixteen Middle East Rally crowns. In the near future, he hopes to add another major title to his name as he intends to run for FIA President when the next election arrives. He revealed his plans in an interview with Al Sharq last Sunday.

“I am qualified for this global position because of my great experience in the field of cars,” said Al-Attiyah. “I am determined to do so, and I have the desire to achieve this dream of holding such a prestigious role. I am honoured to fulfill this dream for my dear country, Qatar, with the support of those responsible for sports and its development, and there will be special planning for this nomination.”

The presidency has a four-year term that can be renewed two more times. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who dominated the Middle East Rally Championship with fourteen titles before Al-Attiyah’s own breakout, was elected to the post in 2021. Thus, the next scheduled election will be in 2025 while Sulayem is permitted to run for re-election.

Al-Attiyah is by far the most decorated driver in Qatar’s motorsport history and one of the greatest in off-road racing as a whole. Besides the aforementioned MERC successes, he also won the Production World Rally Championship in 2006 and has a pair of WRC-2 titles. In rallying’s sister discipline rally raid, he boasts five FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cups including the final edition, and his momentum carried over into its successor World Rally-Raid Championship in 2022 as he claimed the inaugural trophy alongside his fourth Dakar.

His W2RC title defence has been strong so far as he dominated Dakar and won the most recent race at the Sonora Rally to hold the points lead; even his retirement at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge had seen him win every stage before crashing out. His 2023 has also seen him win in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

When not in a rally or cross-country car, Al-Attiyah races in Extreme E for ABT CUPRA XE since 2022. He finished ninth in the championship as a rookie and won the season finale in Uruguay. Two rounds into the 2023 season, he and team-mate Klara Andersson are ninth again, having placed tenth and eighth in this weekend’s two races in Scotland.

Outside of racing, he is training to make the Qatari shooting team for the 2024 Summer Olympics. He won the bronze medal at the 2012 Games.

If Al-Attiyah ascends to the presidency, he would be the tenth person to hold the position since the FIA’s reorganisation into its current identity in 1946.

Sulayem won 61.62 percent of the vote in the 2021 election, defeating FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker. While Sulayem is still in just his first term, he has been embroiled in various controversies tied to Formula One, particularly a growing divide between him and the teams and drivers. He scaled back his involvement with the FIA’s premier series in February, though the sanctioning body insists such a move had been planned following Natalie Robyn‘s appointment as CEO last September.

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