ADJT Abu Dhabi Juniors experience first British forest rally

2008 Malton Forest Rally

For immediate release
Monday, November 3rd, 2008

· Abu Dhabi rookies endure appalling weather in Yorkshire forests
· Sultan Al-Ameri clinches 35th place; gearbox problems sideline Al-Jabri
· Former British champion Martin Rowe gives advice at M-Sport's Greystoke venue

PICKERING (England): Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team members Sultan Al-Ameri and Bader Al-Jabri endured wind, rain and appalling forest special stage conditions in North Yorkshire, when they both took part in a one-day British forest rally on Sunday.

The pair took part in the Malton Forest Rally, a round of the prestigious British Fiesta Sporting Trophy, to continue their exciting development programme in international special stage rallying. The Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team has been put together by BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi with support from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which is run under the chairmanship of His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al-Nahyan.

Al-Ameri and Al-Jabri were partnered by Ulsterman Allan Harryman and Irish co-driver Killian Duffy in a pair of Ford Fiesta STs. Al-Ameri eventually finished 35th overall from 70 starters, but Al-Jabri was sidelined with gearbox problems on the seventh of nine stages. Had Al-Ameri been registered for the Fiesta Sporting Trophy he would have finished eighth and scored championship points.

Heavy drizzle, standing water and pot-holed surfaces were a far cry from the hot, sandy conditions they are used to in the UAE, but the young Abu Dhabi rookies enjoyed their first experience of British forest rallying, as they slithered their Ford Fiestas around some of the most famous forest special stages in the world. Both drivers were evenly matched over the tricky surfaces, although Al-Jabri had lost time when he slipped off the track in the second stage.

The duo were able to check their stage times against the cream of Britain's young rallying hopefuls, including the highly-rated 19-year-old Ulsterman Alastair Fisher, Max Utting and Meilyr Evans. Their times were respectable throughout the event and both drivers found the outing a very rewarding and invaluable exercise.

"It was fun, really enjoyable," admitted Al-Ameri. "It was great to finish the event and quite a challenge to drive in these weather conditions."

The schedule offered two loops of special stages in the rain-soaked Cropton, Gale Rigg and Langdale forests, in addition to three runs through a tricky spectator stage at Pickering Showground, adjacent to the event's muddy service park.

On Friday (October 31st), both drivers had attended a test session at M-Sport's Greystoke forest in Cumbria, where former British rally champion Martin Rowe had driven the pair around Ford's forest test stage and offered advice and tuition on the techniques of gravel rallying, before Al-Ameri and Al-Jabri were permitted to drive themselves.

"It has been really enjoyable and so different to what we are used to in the Middle East," admitted Al-Jabri. "The test session was very useful and I have learned several things that will be vital in the future. Rallying through the forests is so different to the deserts. It is strange keeping to a tight, narrow track, there are many trees and the weather made the stages very slippery.

"I slid off on the second stage. Maybe I was a bit quick into a left corner and we went into a ditch and lost several minutes, but there were some spectators there to help. But then the gearbox started to play up in the fifth stage, it got worse in six and we stopped in seven."

"This rally has been a great experience for both Sultan and Bader," admitted Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi. "But it would not have been possible without the support of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). This first year for the Abu Dhabi Junior Team is just the beginning of an exciting and ambitious programme for young Abu Dhabi drivers. We hope to announce a new programme for 2009 very shortly. We are actively looking out for Abu Dhabi youngsters who may be keen to get involved in this exciting sport in the future."

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) Junior Development programme has been established to create opportunities for young Abu Dhabi citizens. The Abu Dhabi Junior Team will provide a stepping-stone for talented Abu Dhabi drivers and to develop strong support and interest in the sport of rallying in the UAE's commercial capital, in addition to promoting the destination of Abu Dhabi on an international scale.

Abu Dhabi youngsters who may be keen to take part in a new 2009 Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team programme should contact Ron Cremen, team technical director, on + 971 50 6343122, e-mail: ron_rally@yahoo.com. Further details will be released in due course.


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Date issued: 03/11/2008

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