MERC Strong international entry heads to Saudi Arabia

Sharqia (Saudi) Rally 2008
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, official candidate event

For immediate release
Friday, November 7th, 2008

·Saudi Arabian drivers support new rally in Eastern Province
·Entries from Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Bahraini and Qatari teams

RIYADH (Saudi Arabia): Saudi Arabia's new Sharqia Rally has attracted a bumper entry from some of the Middle East's leading rally drivers, with several teams opting to support the new event rather than make the trip to the Troodos Rally for the penultimate round of the FIA regional series this weekend. The three-day Sharqia Rally takes place in the Al-Khobar region of the Eastern Province on November 11th-13th.

With several of the regular teams in the FIA series no longer able to win the championship, it made sense to support an event in the southern Gulf region, rather than incur the costs of travelling to the Eastern Mediterranean. Obviously the likes of championship contenders Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Misfer Al-Marri, Nick Georgiou and Nicos Thomas are committed to the Troodos event, but officials at the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) are delighted with the potential turn-out for Saudi Arabia's maiden international special stage rally.

The Kingdom will be particularly well represented next week, with the likes of Farouk Ghurab, Saeed Al-Mori, Majed Al-Ghamdi, Mansour Al-Ghatani, Farhan Al-Shammer and Rajeh Al-Shammeri joining regional championship regulars Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ahmed Al-Sabban on the entry list. Both the Al-Shammeris were front-runners in the Saudi Hail Baja round of the FIA International Cup for Bajas, but this will be their first attempt at an international stage rally.

Al-Ghamdi enjoyed a successful start to his career with the Toyota Rav4 programme several years ago and has become a regular face in regional rallying. He teams up with Italian co-driver Nicola Arena in Saudi Arabia at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza. Arena is better known for his partnership with Jordan's Amjad Farrah, who is also present on the impressive entry list.

Three other Jordanian crews have opted to follow Farrah to the Sharqia Rally. Faris Hijazi and his co-driver Imad Juma wheel out their Mimari Racing car and are joined by Ibrahim Muhawish and Yousef Al-Asmar in a Subaru Impreza and Ammar Hijazi and co-driver Ata Al Hmoud in their Subaru.

Qatar's Mohammed Al-Marri and Jaber Al-Marri have also entered the Sharqia Rally, while Manchester-based chemist David Scialom represents the United Kingdom, Meshari Al-Thafiri drives for Kuwait and Abdulrahman Ghuloom wheels out his trusty Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 5 to represent the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The event is being held under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the new Saudi Rally.

"We are delighted to welcome so many international rally teams to the Eastern Province," said Mishaal Al-Sudairy, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). "We have good representation from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and many of the GCC countries. This bodes well for the future strength of our new rally when we hope to enter the regional championship in 2009.

The event will be based in the Half Moon Bay area of Al-Khobar, which is easily accessible for overseas competitors from the Bahrain Causeway. Scrutineering takes place next Tuesday (November 11th)  at Automoto between Al Khobar and Damman. This will be followed by a spectator stage at King Fahd Coastal City and the two days of desert competitive action will be on Wednesday, November 12th and Thursday, November 13th.


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2008 Saudi Rally International Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).


Date issued: 07/11/2008

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