PSD Revised Pirelli Star Driver competition announced for MERC

2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship

For immediate release
Friday, April 3rd, 2009


· Kuwait's Al-Thafiri and UAE's Al-Mansoori qualify for final
· Entries still open for Syrian and Lebanese qualifying rounds

AMMAN (Jordan): FIA Vice President and regional rally commissioner, Derek Ledger, has announced a revised format for this year's Pirelli 'Star Driver' competition, following the postponement of the Jordan International Rally and the withdrawal of the Sharqia Rally from the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

The top two drivers from the recent Kuwait International Rally will now qualify automatically for the final - which will be held during the two days of the Dubai International Rally on December 4-5th - and competitors from the West Zone will now take part in two qualifying rounds in Syria in June and Lebanon at the start of July.

The two leaders after the pair of summer rallies will then join Kuwait's Meshari Al-Thafiri and Team Abu Dhabi's Ahmad Al-Mansoori in the regional final.

"The Pope's visit to Jordan meant that the Jordan International Rally has been moved to the end of October and this didn't really fit in with the timetable for the Pirelli 'Star Driver' competition," admitted Derek Ledger. "We reached a decision at a recent meeting in the UAE to restructure the competition and this means that the results from the Kuwait Rally stand as the final qualifier from the Gulf Zone."

Ledger is keen to stress that the same points' structure remains in place for the next two rounds in Syria and Lebanon, with five points being scored by a registered driver for a stage win, down to a single point for fifth position on a special stage. The two drivers who have amassed the most points from the two rounds will qualify for the final.

"We will not just be looking at driver ability and who scores the most points on the Dubai Rally," added Ledger. "We want a talented young driver to represent the Middle East, but we also need a driver who is suitable in other areas and our final decision may reflect that individual's ability to promote himself, his manner in public, his attitude with the media and the way that he presents himself and his team. We reserve the right to make the final decision on who will represent the Middle East region in the worldwide search for the Pirelli 'Star Driver'."

A final decision will be made before the ceremonial finish of the Dubai International Rally. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA Vice President for Sport and President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates (ATCUAE), will supply a new award and this will be presented by Derek Ledger to the winner at the podium of the final round of the series on Saturday, December 5th.

Registrations for the final two qualifying rounds of the Pirelli 'Star Driver' are still open. Further details are available from Derek Ledger, FIA Vice President and Middle East Pirelli 'Star Driver' co-ordinator, E-mail: dhledger@orange.jo.  

Note to editors:

The Pirelli 'Star Driver' competition
The Pirelli 'Star Driver' award is a worldwide search for the five best young rally drivers from the 2009 FIA regional championships in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa and European (including South America) zones.

Each region is holding qualifying events and a final shoot out. The successful drivers will be invited to contest a series of six rounds of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship in identical Group N cars supplied and serviced under an FIA agreement.


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2009 Pirelli 'Star Driver award', Middle East International Media Liaison Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)


Date issued: 03/04/2009

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