PSD Georgiou and Al Thafiri set for Pirelli Star Driver showdown in Dubai


2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship

For immediate release
Saturday, November 28th, 2009




·         Pirelli Star Driver winner set for six WRC events in 2010

·        Dubai International Rally to host Pirelli Star Driver final

DUBAI (UAE): Lebanese driver Nicholai Georgiou and Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thafiri will go head-to-head at next weekend’s Dubai International Rally to determine the destiny of this year’s Pirelli ‘Star Driver’ (PSD) Award for the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. The event takes place on December 3-5.


The driver who amasses the most points from the two days at the final round of the regional rally series will join other regional heat winners from around the world in six rounds of next year’s FIA World Rally Championship.


Georgiou lost out on victory in last year’s prestigious competition on a technicality to Cypriot Nicos Thomas, but the Lebanese youngster has been the most improved driver in the regional series this season and holds fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship heading to Dubai.


He won the West Zone of the Pirelli Star Driver competition in Syria, while Al-Thafiri qualified for the regional final through the Gulf zone event in Kuwait back in March. Both are regular competitors in the region and it promises to be a thrilling showdown over the two days of gravel competition in the UAE deserts around Hatta and Sharjah.


“I’m looking forward to the rally immensely,” said Georgiou. “I’ve been preparing very well both physically and mentally and I’m feeling relaxed and confident. I’m ready for a good battle to win the Pirelli award.”


Al-Thafiri has been preparing meticulously for the Dubai encounter and will drive a new Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX for the first time at the UAE event. Georgiou will team up with Lebanese co-driver Joseph Matar in a similar car.


Ahmed Al-Mansoori was a third qualifier for the Dubai Pirelli Star Driver final, but the Team Abu Dhabi Junior driver will not take part in the regional finale.


“All our Junior drivers will go to the UK for the Ford Fiesta Shoot-Out to be held over three days and also to test the R2 Fiesta for the 2010 Championship,” admitted team spokesman Ron Cremen. “Ahmed is also not competing in a competitive car and could not be judged equally over the desert terrain that you find in the Dubai International Rally.”


The highest-placed of the two Pirelli Star Driver finalists in the overall results of the rally will be declared the winner and go forward with the other winners from Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region to the WRC events that have been nominated as rounds of the 2010 Pirelli Star Driver competition - notably Jordan, Portugal, Finland, Germany, France and Great Britain.


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 held 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@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)



Date issued: 28/11/2009

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