CC Al Attiyah eyes FIA World Cup title and UAE Desert Challenge win

UAE DESERT CHALLENGE (October 25th-31st, 2008)
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country rallies, final round

For immediate release
Friday, October 24th, 2008


Qatar's Al-Attiyah bids to clinch FIA World Cup title for X-raid
Russian Novitskiy set for UAE challenge with second BMW X3 CC

TREBUR (Germany): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Russian driver Leonid Novitskiy will represent the AlgoDyne Green Power Racing or X-raid Team in the UAE Desert Challenge, the fourth and final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, between October 25th-31st.

The pair will be co-driven by Sweden's Tina Thörner and Russia's Oleg Tyupenkin on what the Trebur-based team hopes will unearth its maiden victory in one of the world's most difficult rallies.

A podium finish for Al-Attiyah would also confirm the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title for the Qatari star, who is bidding to become the first FIA driver in history to win three FIA motor sport titles in the same season. The BMW X-raid team has already won the FIA World Cup on one occasion with Dubai driver Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei.

X-raid's Al-Attiyah was the class of the field in last year's UAE Desert Challenge, with the rampant Qatari setting the pace for several days in his BMW X3 CC against world-class opposition from the Mitsubishi and Volkswagen factory teams.

The Qatari set a staggering pace to win five of the event's seven special stages, but cruel rear differential problems and a dramatic, last gasp electrical fault cost him a potential victory in 2007.

Since then, the X-raid team - under the determined leadership of Sven Quandt - has developed and improved the X3 CC still further and Al-Attiyah has been the man to beat in this year's FIA International Cup for Bajas, winning the prestigious international title in record time and taking outright victories in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain and Hungary. He is also closing in on a fifth FIA Middle East Rally Championship title in six years and holds a commanding lead in the series with two rounds remaining.

The BMW X3 CC has become a potent package and has matched both the Volkswagen and Mitsubishi teams on other long-distance events in Spain, Hungary, Portugal and Romania. The other two factory teams are developing their new cars away from the punishing heat and the spotlight of this year's UAE Desert Challenge, meaning that Al-Attiyah will be doubly determined to take a first win in the six-day event in their absence.

The X-raid team have made several changes and modifications to Al-Attiyah's new BMW X3 CC and will be eyeing the data with interest, particularly the water and oil temperatures on an event where it can often reach the mid-forties centigrade in the heat of the Arabian midday sun.

"I am so looking forward to taking part in the UAE Desert Challenge again," enthused Al-Attiyah, who tackled the Jordan round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship last weekend in his bid to win the FIA regional title for the fifth time in six years.

"I have unfinished business on this event. I led for three days last year and know that we have the car to win this time. It is never easy on the Desert Challenge. The sand can be very soft when the temperature rises and it can be easy to get stuck.

"But I have many years' experience of racing in the desert and feel that this is my best chance so far to win the event and put my name alongside many famous drivers who have won this rally since it was included in the World Cup for the first time in 1993."

His team mate is the ever-improving Novitskiy, who finished second overall in Baja Hungary, fourth in the hotly-contested Baja Spain and set several competitive stage times in the recent Pax Rally through Portugal.

The UAE Desert Challenge may be synonymous for its treacherous soft sand, towering sand dunes and high temperatures. But the X-raid team has been testing in Saharan Africa this summer and is hopeful that the desert terrain they will cross in the UAE will provide team engineers and technicians with crucial technical data in advance of the all-important 2009 Dakar Rally. 

X-raid's quest for a maiden UAE Desert Challenge kicks off with scrutineering of the Trebur-built BMW X3 CCs in Mina Seyahi, near Dubai, on Friday, October 24th and this will be followed by the opening timed super special stage at nearby Umm Suqueim from 4pm on Sunday afternoon (October 26th). 

Teams will then take a road liaison section from the Dubai emirate to the official Monday morning start of the event outside the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi from 09.30hrs. A second liaison will then guide crews to the start of the opening desert section between Al-Dafrah and the overnight halt at Moreeb hill, near Liwa, deep inside the Abu Dhabi emirate.

Crews will then tackle three loop stages around the Moreeb bivouac on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, each selective section crossing a wide range of treacherous sand dunes, gatch roads, gravel trails and winding Bedouin sand flats through the Rub Al Khali or Empty Quarter - one of the remotest places on earth near the frontier with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The final leg takes place on Friday, October 31st and features two selective sections, as in previous years, with the opening special heading out from Moreeb to Hameem and the second skirting the Al Ain Highway and finishing within touching distance of the outer extremities of Mina Seyahi, where the official podium finish will take place from 16.30hrs at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC).

2008 FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Rallies
Positions after round 3 of 4:

1. Luc Alphand (F)  15 pts
1. Giniel de Villiers (ZA) 15 pts
1. Dominique Housieaux (F) 15 pts
4. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 11 pts
4. Mark Miller (USA)  11 pts
4. Eric Vigouroux (F)  11 pts, etc 


Further information and photos are available at www.x-raid.de or contact Yvette Theisen at X-raid GmbH, Tel: + 49 (0) 6147 204670, E-mail: y.theisen@x-raid.de.

Date issued: 24/10/2008

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