Nasser Al-Attiyah has been forced to miss next month’s Rally New Zealand due to his training commitments for the London Olympics - but rising Belgian star Thierry Neuville will replace him in the Qatar World Rally Team.
As well as contesting this year’s FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, Al-Attiyah is a regular in the Qatar Olympic team, representing his home nation in the skeet shooting competition.
As the London Olympic Games draw near, the former Production Car world champion is unable to travel to the other side of the world for the Auckland-based round.
“We are official entrants in the world championship and it is mandatory for us to compete in every round,” said Al-Attiyah. “It didn’t take much thinking time to realise who should take my place in the number seven Citroen DS3 WRC! I trust Thierry [Neuville], but most of all I want him to be able to gain as much experience from taking part in this event as possible and for it to be beneficial to him. I am equally convinced that he is more than capable of scoring points for the Qatar World Rally Team.”
Neuville was not expecting to tackle the North Island event and was delighted to be called up.
“This is more than just a great opportunity, it is a real honour for me to be trusted in this way by the team,” he said. “Without this offer, I would never have been able to race on the legendary tracks of the Pacific coast. We will do everything in our power to defend the colours of the Qatar World Rally Team. I'd like to thank them for giving us the opportunity to experience such a great event.”