MERC Saudi's Sharqia Rally will be crucial to regional title contenders

Sharqia Rally 2010
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4 of 8

For immediate release
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010



·         Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah starts as favourite to win in Saudi

·         Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi aims for second successive MERC victory

RIYADH (Saudi Arabia): The 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship is shaping up to be one of the most exciting on record and next week’s Sharqia Rally in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be crucial in determining the eventual winner of the region’s eight-round rally series.


The Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) have now finalised the route for the three-day rally in the Half Moon Bay area of Al-Khobar. The event will be based at the King Fahd sports coastal city and will run on April 20-22 under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Sharqia Rally, with full FIA World Council approval.


Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is chasing a sixth regional title in seven years and heads to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tied for the championship lead after three rounds with Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri. Both drivers have 16 points, with Al-Attiyah taking a first in Qatar and a third in Jordan and Al-Marri taking two second places in Kuwait and Jordan with his Subaru Impreza.


Al-Attiyah tackled the recent Jordan Rally in a Skoda Fabia S2000, but appears on the Saudi entry list at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta S2000.


The form driver on the last round was home favourite Yazeed Al-Rajhi in his Kronos Peugeot 207 S2000. The Saudi failed to score a point on the first two rallies, but set some excellent stage times in Jordan earlier this month to claim his second career MERC win and 10 vital points to kick-start his 2010 title challenge.


Al-Rajhi won the Sharqia Rally when it ran for the first time as a candidate round in 2008 and has the experience and the pace to match and beat Al-Attiyah and Al-Marri over the sandy stages in Saudi’s Eastern Province. “I need to finish and try and beat Nasser and Misfer,” admitted Al-Rajhi. “There are still five rounds to go and it is all to play for.”


Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani failed to add to the 10 points he amassed in Qatar and Kuwait, when he failed to finish in Jordan recently, but the 1993 regional champion will be aiming to bolster his points’ tally in Saudi Arabia before the MERC takes a four-month summer sabbatical before resuming in Lebanon in mid-September.


The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi won the second round of the championship in Kuwait with his Ford Fiesta S2000, but was robbed of a potential victory in Jordan recently by an alternator belt failure. That misfortune cost the Emirati driver the chance to take the outright championship lead before the Saudi Arabian round and he is the third driver to hold 10 points after three rounds.


“We have attracted many of the regional championship runners and a strong contingent from Qatar,” said SAMF president Mishaal Al-Sudairy, who has just returned from a trip to Qatar for the MotoGP race at Losail on Sunday. “We will also welcome several dignitaries during the Sharqia Rally week, including Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).


Further rally information is available from the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, PO Box 87881, Riyadh 11652, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 9661 477 1035, Fax: + 9661 477 1050, E-mail: info@samf.gov.sa or Hamoud Al-Jabry, Technical Advisor, Mobile: +966 560 623436 or + 966 546 677660, E-mail: aljabri@samf.gov.sa or coolmoodz@hotmail.com.


2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship

Drivers’ Championship – after round 3 of 8

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)                          16 pts              

1. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)                                             16 pts              

3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)                               10 pts

3. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)               10 pts

3. Sheikh Hamad Bin Eid Al-Thani (QA)                 10 pts

6. Amjad Farrah (HKJ)                                        9 pts                

7. Rashid Al-Ketbi (UAE)                               8 pts

7. Essam Al-Nejadi (KT)                                            8 pts                

9. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QA)                             6 pts

10. Michel Saleh (RL)                                             5 pts

10. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)              5 pts

12. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA)                           4 pts                

13. Mufeed Mubarak (KT)                             3 pts

14. Mohammed Al-Marri (QA)                             2 pts

14. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KT)                                 2 pts

14. Dawood Al-Gharablly (KT)                           2 pts

17. Jaber Al-Marri (QA)                                             1 pt



1. Giovanni Bernacchini (I)                           16 pts              

1. Nicola Arena (I)                                             16 pts              

3. Matthieu Baumel (F)                                            10 pts

3. Michael Orr (GB)                                         10 pts

3. Arif Yousef (UAE)                                       10 pts

6. Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE)                              8 pts

7. Nick Beech (GB)                                         6 pts

8. Steve Lancaster (GB)                                      5 pts

8. Jake Carlin (GB)                                         5 pts



For further media information:

Neil Perkins, 2010 Sharqia Rally International Press Liaison, NDP Publicity, Services, Tel: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com. www.ndp-publicity.com.

Arabic: Firas Nimri, Arabic Press Liaison, Mobile: + 9662 777 282000, E-mail: firas@nimri.com



Date issued: 13/04/2010

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