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MERC Bumper entry set for NBK Qatar International Rally

2009 NBK Qatar International Rally
2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1

For immediate release
Saturday, January 10th 2008

BUMPER ENTRY SET FOR NBK QATAR
INTERNATIONAL RALLY SHOWDOWN

·Qatar's Al-Attiyah set to debut new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
·UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi returns to regional rally action

DOHA (Qatar): All the top names in Middle East rallying have entered the NBK Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the 2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, taking place in the deserts around Losail on January 22nd-24th.

Entries have just closed for the traditional championship starting round and it looks set to be a fascinating opening showdown in the Qatar deserts, with several drivers running in new teams and new cars and a couple of new faces entering the fray to boost the excitement for the organising Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah was won the regional series five times in the last six years and he lines up on his home event with a new car and a new co-driver. His regular co-driver Chris Patterson has a contract with the QMMF to co-drive for Misfer Al-Marri this season, so Al-Attiyah will be partnered by his usual cross-country rally partner Tina Thörner in the Middle East series, in addition to rounds of the FIA World Cup and Baja series.

Thörner, from Sweden, is currently in South America where she was competing with Nasser on the Dakar Rally and the pair will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X for the first time in Qatar, the car being prepared by an Austrian team under the management of Raimund Baumschlager. Al-Attiyah was the revelation of the opening four legs of the Dakar, winning two of the four stages with his BMW X-raid team.

The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi is likely to be Al-Attiyah's main rival in the absence of Roger Feghali and Al-Qassimi returns to the Qatar Rally for the first time for two years with regular Ulster co-driver Michael Orr in a Subaru Impreza N14.

His brother Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi has also entered the event with Steve Lancaster and bolsters a strong UAE contingent that also includes Michel Saleh and a pair of junior Emirati drivers in Ford Fiestas.

Amjad Farrah failed to score a single point in last year's regional campaign, but the Jordanian leads the Amman-based contingent, with Ammar Hizaji also taking part. Yazeed Al-Rajhi flies the Saudi Arabian flag on the much-vaunted Middle East debut of his new Kronos Racing Peugeot 207 S2000.

Nizar Al-Shanfari completed every round of the series last season and returns to represent the Sultanate of Oman, while Saleh bin Eidan heads a five-strong Kuwaiti team. There are no less than 10 Qatari teams on the entry list and there is also representation from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"We are delighted to see all the top drivers from the region taking part in our opening round of the championship," enthused Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF). "Several drivers will use new cars, there are several team changes, but the championship has retained his strength in depth and continues to improve as the seasons progress."

For further information about the 2009 NBK Qatar International Rally, contact the Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation (QMMF), PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 437 9884/9885, Fax: + 974 437 9761, E-mail: info@qmmf.com and website: www.qmmf.com
 
Ends
 
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2009 NBK Qatar International Rally, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

www.qmmf.com
www.merc-fia.com

Date issued: 10/01/2009

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