MERC Khalid Al-Qassimi takes slender lead in Kuwait

FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round two

For immediate release
Thursday, March 4th, 2010


·         Saudi’s Al-Rajhi holds second position; third for Al-Thafiri

·         Saleh Bin Eidan and Mufeed Mubarak hold eighth and 15th

JAHRA (Kuwait): The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr held a 0.1-second overall advantage after a thrilling opening super special stage of the 2010 Kuwait International Rally, round two of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), on Thursday afternoon.

A large crowd gathered to watch the 27 starters tackle the challenging 3.5km stage, but the Ford Fiesta S2000 driver weathered the sandy conditions to seal the overnight advantage.

Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel completed the stage in second overall in a Peugeot 207 S2000 and the local crew of Meshari and Fares Al-Thafiri rounded off the top three in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Only five seconds separated the top six drivers.

Kuwait’s Meshal Al-Nejadi dropped over 40 seconds to the leading group, but there was better news for Saleh Bin Eidan. He held eighth position after the opening super special stage. Third-placed Al-Thafiri complained of strange noises emanating from his engine after the special.

Cars were flagged away from the start at the Kuwait Towers in Kuwait City by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah, President of the KMSC and Chairman of the Organising Committee.

The event is being organised by the Kuwait Motor Sports Club (KMSC) under the patronage of His Excellency the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

Jordanian driver Amjad Farrah withdrew shortly before the start to concentrate on his planning for the Jordanian WRC round later this month and there were three car changes down the field.

Michel Saleh opted to drive his older Subaru Impreza N12, Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani wheeled out the ex-Nizar Al-Shanfari Subaru Impreza N14 and Qatar’s Khaled Al-Suwaidi was forced to take part in his recce Subaru Impreza N12 instead of his original N14, because of engine damage sustained by the newer model.

Leading drivers, including Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, Mufeed Mubarak and Misfer Al-Marri, joined Sheikh Ahmad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah and clerk of the course Walid Mihyar at the pre-event press conference on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, tomorrow (Friday) teams will tackle six gravel and sandy special stages in the Kuwait desert, with competitive action getting underway at 08.56hrs with the 34.72km Al-Salmi stage.

Runs through the 33.16km Al-Alatraff and 12.00km Shooting Club stages follow, before crews return to the main service park at the Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Olympic Shooting Complex. The three stages are repeated on Friday afternoon, with crews tackling a total of 163.26km of special stages. The event finishes on Saturday afternoon.

Positions after SS1 (unofficial):

1. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Michael Orr (GB) Ford Fiesta S2000                 3m 35.0s

2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Matthieu Baumel (F) Peugeot 207 S2000               3m 35.1s

3. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KT)/Fares Al-Thafiri (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX                 3m 35.5s

4. Rashid Al-Ketbi (UAE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE)            Skoda Fabia S2000                  3m 38.9s

5. Khaled Al-Suwaidi (QA)/Nicky Beech (GB) Subaru Impreza                         3m 39.4s

6. Michel Saleh (RL)/K. Kaleifa (KT) Subaru Impreza                                     3m 39.7s

7. Mubarak Al-Hajri (QA)/Adel Hussein (QA) Subaru Impreza STi                   3m 41.1s

8. Saleh Bin Eidan (KT)/Abdulazes Abel (KT) Subaru Impreza N12                  3m 41.5s

9. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)/Nicola Arena (I) Subaru Impreza N15                              3m 41.8s

10. Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani (QA)/Yousef Mohammed (QA) Subaru Impreza 3m 42.3s


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, International Media Liaison, 2010 Kuwait International Rally, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)






Date issued: 04/03/2010

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