MERC Emphatic fourth Syrian Rally victory for Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah

2010 Syrian International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6 of 8

For immediate release
Saturday, October 9th, 2010


Syria’s Hamsho finishes sixth; last stage woe for Al-Yousefi
UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi takes second position
Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri remains on course for MERC title

SEDNAYA (Syria): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini clinched an emphatic victory by the margin of 12min 23.4sec in the 10th Syrian International Rally, round six of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), which finished in Sednaya on Saturday afternoon.

The pair won nine of the event’s 13 gravel special stages, as Al-Attiyah moved into second position in the Drivers’ Championship with his 36th outright MERC success and a record-breaking fourth win in Syria.

Bernacchini clinched his seventh MERC win as a co-driver and now ties Jordan’s Khaled Zakaria as the fourth most successful navigator in championship history. It was the Italian’s first win in Syria.

“This is a fantastic win for me,” said a delighted Al-Attiyah. “I have missed three rounds of the championship this season, but I still have a chance to win the title again now. Misfer (Al-Marri) is doing what he has to do, but I will go into the last two rounds knowing that I have a great chance if I can win both rallies.”

Sharjah’s Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi continued his run of excellent form to take second position and move into a similar place in the Drivers’ Championship standings after six of eight rounds. Syria’s Haitham Al-Yousefi retired from second position on the final stage with radiator problems and Ahmad Hamsho finished as the leading local driver in sixth overall.

Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri started cautiously on Friday, but found a sensible pace over the closing stages to claim third overall and six points for being the third registered driver home. He will now take a 10-point championship lead to Cyprus next month and a pair of third places on the remaining two rounds will be enough to see him claim a maiden regional title. His Italian co-driver Nicola Arena continues to lead the Co-Drivers’ Championship.

Fifteen of the original 19 starters began the second day and Al-Attiyah was in control through the 17.3km of the Deir Ateyah stage. He extended his lead to 8m 33s, as Abdullah Al-Qassimi reduced Haitham Al-Yousefi’s hold on second position by 22 seconds. Qatar’s Khaled Al-Suwaidi had been plagued by problems on day one and illness forced him to withdraw before the restart.

Al-Attiyah was again quickest through Runnet and the top-eight held station advantage had grown to 8m 52.4s and another fastest time in SS10 saw his lead grow to a staggering 10m 21s. There were no changes inside the top nine, although Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thafiri overhauled Syria’s Amir Arnaout to snatch 10th position.

Al-Marri claimed the fastest time on the second Deir Ateyah stage, but Al-Attiyah beat Al-Yousefi by over 30 seconds and extended his lead to 10m 52.1s. The series leader was again quickest in Runnet, but Al-Attiyah had noticeably eased his pace and headed into the final stage with an outright lead of 11m 11.9s. Al-Thafiri passed fellow Kuwaiti Essam Al-Nejadi to take ninth overall.

Al-Marri completed his hat-trick of stage wins in the final 25.30km stage, but Al-Attiyah had done enough to claim a straightforward victory and further emphasise the performance advantage of the S2000 cars over their Group N counterparts. But there was late misery for Al-Yousefi, who retired from second position with a broken radiator and handed the runner-up spot to Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi.

The event took place under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism with the full support of MTN – official sponsor, SMI, the Sheraton Ma’arat Sednaya, Jupiter Rent-a-Car, Zaman Alkhair, Aldunia television and Al-Madina radio.

The next round of the 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship will be the Limassol-based FX Pro Cyprus Rally on November 5-7.

10th Syrian International Rally – final positions (unofficial @ 14.40hrs):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (I) Ford Fiesta S2000 2h 51m 21.2s
2. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3h 03m 44.6s
3. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)/Nicola Arena (I) Subaru Impreza 3h 04m 31.6s
4. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA/Stéphane Prevot (B) Subaru Impreza 3h 11m 50.2s
5. Abdullah Al-Rabban (QA)/Imad Juma (HKJ) Subaru Impreza 3h 15m 23.2s
6. Ahmad Hamsho (SYR)/Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 3h 19m 50.8s
7. Jaber Al-Marri (QA)/Kamal Khoder (RL) Subaru Impreza 3h 22m 05.9s
8. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KT)/Fares Al-Thafiri (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3h 23m 03.5s
9. Essam Al-Nejadi (KT)/Anwar Al-Sharaah (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3h 25m 01.5s
10. Amir Arnaout (SYR)/Ala Al-Hmoud (HKJ) Subaru Impreza 3h 28m 15.7s

2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship - after round 6 of 8 (unofficial)
Drivers’ Championship

1. Misfer Al-Marri (QA) 36 pts
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 26 pts
3. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 21 pts
4. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 20 pts
4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) 20 pts
6. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QA) 16 pts
7. Sheikh Hamad Bin Eid Al-Thani (QA) 14 pts
7. Essam Al-Nejadi (KT) 14 pts, etc

Co-drivers’ Championship
1. Nicola Arena (I) 36 pts
2. Giovanni Bernacchini (I) 26 pts
3. Steve Lancaster (GB) 21 pts
4. Matthieu Baumel (F) 20 pts
4. Michael Orr (GB) 20 pts
6. Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE) 19 pts
7. Arif Yousef Mohammed (UAE 15 pts
8. Nick Beech (GB) 11 pts
9. Jake Carlin (GB) 5 pts


For further media information:
Emad Sankar, Arabic Press Officer, Tel: + 963 11 232 3706, Fax: + 963 11 231 2785, Mobile: + 963 944 811129, E-mail: emad.sankar@gmail.com
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2010 Syrian International Rally, Syrian mobile: + 963 945 777151, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)




Date issued: 09/10/2010

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