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Leading Qatari drivers head for domestic rally showdown

2004 Qatar International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, candidate event

For immediate release
Thursday, February 12th, 2004

LEADING QATARIS DRIVERS HEAD INTO
DOMESTIC SHOWDOWN IN QATAR RALLY

Bahraini Al-Sadadi determined to succeed; Ghuloom enters Mitsubishi

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's leading rally drivers are preparing to contest the NBKS Qatar International Rally next week. The event is a candidate for the 2005 Middle East Rally Championship and is being organised on February 19th-21st by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).

Fresh from taking seventh place in the PWRC category of the Swedish International Rally last weekend, defending regional champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah lines up as the favourite to win his home event for a second successive season.

But Nasser and co-driver Steve Lancaster face competition from a host of Qatari drivers. Hamed Al-Sowaidi set some impressive stage times during the recent UAE Rally and would have finished higher than seventh place had he not incurred a 10-minute time penalty. Hamed and co-driver Michael Morrissey return to Doha in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, prepared by Ireland's Garry Emmett.

~It was so disappointing to get the penalty in Abu Dhabi,~ said Sowaidi. ~I felt very strongly about it. But I proved that I was on the pace of the leaders in the Group N category and that bodes well for the rest of the season.~

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari finished third overall in his Mitsubishi in Abu Dhabi and last year's Middle East Group N championship runner-up is relishing the challenge of competing against Al-Attiyah and Sowaidi on home soil. Both Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah and Khalifa Al-Attiyah have also entered a pair of Mitsubishi Lancers and Mohammed Al-Marri looks set to head the Super 1600 two-wheel drive category in his Opel Corsa.

~It was disappointing for the Qatar Motor Federation to lose its status in the Middle East Rally Championship at the end of last year,~ admitted Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the President of the QMMF. ~But we are looking forward to a rapid return to the championship in 2005 and have made several changes and improvements to our event this year in preparation for that.~

One of Bahrain's leading drivers Hassan Al-Sadadi was forced to miss the opening round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in Abu Dhabi, but has entered next week's Qatar event to prepare for the next round of the regional series in Bahrain in March.

Al-Sadadi and British co-driver Keith Wake have been regular visitors to Qatar in recent seasons and will take the start in their Subaru Impreza. Hassan is one of the most experienced drivers currently taking part in Middle East desert rallying and his career now spans three decades.

One of his claims to fame was driving a Land Rover 110, which catapulted into a series of high-speed rolls on a Dubai Rally in the 1990s. The dramatic television footage has been used as one of the introduction sequences to Sky Sports' 'World Motorsport' programme in Europe for several years.

Sadadi is joined on the entry list by fellow countryman Abdulrahman Ghuloom in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. ~I missed the rally in Abu Dhabi at the end of last month,~ said Ghuloom. ~But I am planning a full programme of events this year in the Mitsubishi and the Qatar Rally offers a good chance for me to prepare for the Bahrain Rally next month.~

Competitive action in this year's event gets underway with two runs through a timed 2.53 kms super special stage in Doha from 20.10 (local time) next Thursday (February 19th). The event is based at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Doha.

For further information about the 2004 Qatar International Rally, contact the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (Tel: + 974 4379732, Fax: + 974 4379761 and Email: asn@qmmf.com). Website: www.qmmf.com

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2004 Qatar International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services,
Tel: + (44) 1952 825078, Fax: + (44) 1952 825001, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com/press releases

Date issued: 12/02/2004

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NDP Publicity Services
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