Nasser Al-Attiyah is still confident he has a good chance of defending his Dakar Rally title despite being just under 43 minutes behind leader Stephane Peterhansel at the rally's halfway point.
Now driving for Robby Gordon's Hummer operation after former team Volkswagen's withdrawal, Al-Attiyah has had several mechanical problems during the opening week, leaving him only sixth as the rally paused for its traditional rest day today. But having won Saturday's stage by seven minutes, Al-Attiyah believes catching Peterhansel is still feasible.
"Our objective is to claw back seven or eight minutes every day," said the Qatari driver. "And today we did it perfectly.
"We will do our best to repeat this performance in all stages from Monday onward, or even try to do better. At any rate, we have no other choice if we still want to win the Dakar."
Gordon was second fastest behind Al-Attiyah yesterday despite having to stop and attend to a puncture. Currently running third, the NASCAR racer is very confident in his teammate's chances of pulling off a comeback victory.
"I am sure Nasser is going to win this thing," Gordon declared. "OK, the others are still ahead, but I think we are in a very good position for the rest of the rally."