MERC Super special stopped as Kuwait Rally gets underway
KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 5th-7th 2009
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round two
For immediate release
Thursday, March 5th, 2009
KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY GETS UNDERWAY IN KUWAIT CITY
·Super special stage stopped for safety reasons as daylight fades
JAHRA (Kuwait): Kuwait Motor Sports Club (KMSC) president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah flagged the 30-strong entry away from the start of the 2009 Kuwait International Rally at the Kuwait Towers on Thursday afternoon. The ceremony marked an emotional return to the championship for Kuwait's flagship motor sport event after an absence of 13 years.
But the opening 3.5 km super special stage section at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Circuit in Kuwait City was stopped on safety grounds after the start was slightly delayed and leading cars would have been running in fading light. As per event regulations, cars that had not entered the stage were given the fastest time set by competitors who had already finished the special.
The event is based at the Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Olympic Shooting Complex in Jahra, near Kuwait City and is being held under the patronage of Faisal Al-Jazaf, chairman and general manager of the public authority for youth and sports in the State of Kuwait. He will attend the official ceremonial finish on Saturday afternoon, after teams have tackled 14 special stages and 250 competitive kilometres.
Drivers were able to pass through all the special stages on Tuesday and Wednesday to get an idea of what to expect over the coming days, but there were mixed feelings among the leading teams about their chances.
Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al-Rajhi won the candidate rally in Kuwait last year in a Subaru Impreza, but his decision to race in a Peugeot 207 S2000 this year may be a costly one. "My car has great potential," said Al-Rajhi. "We proved that in Qatar with second place, but these stages are much sandier than Qatar and I feel that I will struggle to match the Mitsubishis and the Subarus. This is definitely not the best rally for an S2000 car."
Qatar's defending regional champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah has fond memories of competing in the BP Kuwait Rally Challenge when he first started rallying in 1989. He likes the terrain he is likely to face over the next two days.
"We are back in a Subaru for this rally with my old team," enthused Al-Attiyah, who also confirmed that he has made a switch to driving for the Volkswagen factory team in cross-country rallying this year on a two-year contract. "We have an N14 Subaru that has been upgraded to something like N15. The entry is strong, but I will try my best to win in Kuwait for the first time."
Tomorrow (Friday) teams will tackle the second section of leg one. The day features a further six timed special stages in the Kuwait desert, split by the main service and regroup at around midday at the Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Olympic Shooting Complex in Jahra, near Kuwait City.
The surviving crews will tackle the revised Al-Salmi, Alatraff and Shooting Club specials on two occasions during the day, with the longer Alatraff test likely to provide a stiff test throughout its challenging 29.30km. Teams will return to the Kuwait Shooting Club from 3.40hrs for the overnight halt.
Competitors' progress can be followed on Friday and Saturday via live tracking over the course of the three days of competitive action using the following website: http://tracking.sporttraxx.com/races/kuwait-2009/
For further media information:
Neil Perkins, International Media Liaison Officer, 2009 Kuwait International Rally, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)