MERC Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah aims to continue re-writing history books in Qatar Rally

Qatar International Rally
2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), round 1 of 7

For immediate release
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011


· QMMF’s Nasser Khalifa congratulates Al-Attiyah on Dakar win
· Nasser Al-Attiyah aiming for ninth successive Qatar Rally win

DOHA (Qatar): Fresh from achieving the greatest sporting victory for an Arab in history, Dakar Rally-winning Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will be aiming to add to his own piece of motor sporting history when he tackles next month’s Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), on February 3-5, 2011.

Al-Attiyah became the first Arab to win the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile in South America last weekend and now the Qatari will be hoping to clinch an unprecedented ninth successive victory in the Qatar International Rally.

Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) was one of the first to congratulate Al-Attiyah on his superb achievement. “On behalf of everyone at the QMMF I congratulate Nasser on this superb achievement. He has made everyone in Qatar proud and we are delighted that he has fulfilled one of his goals.”

“I knew that the big Dakar special stage into Córdoba two days from the end was the most important of my life,” said a delighted Al-Attiyah. “I was not going to take any risks. I had a dream when I was very young that I would win the Dakar.

“Even at the start in Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day I felt relaxed and comfortable. I cannot describe what it feels like to win this event. I was so close last year and I was leading the year before, but this is something very special. This is the biggest moment in my career.”

Al-Attiyah has won the regional rally title six times in the last eight seasons and has amassed 38 victories in rounds of the championship.

“The Qatar Rally is also special for me. It is a fantastic feeling to win your home event and it is important that I manage to make a good start to the new season.”

Al-Attiyah’s eight Qatar victories have been earned with four different co-drivers. England’s Steve Lancaster partnered the Qatari to his first success in a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car in 2003 and Ulsterman Chris Patterson came on board for the candidate event in 2004. That triumph marked the first of five successes with Patterson, as the pair dominated the Qatari’s home rally in various evolutions of the Group N Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

Patterson switched to the FIA World Rally Championship at the start of 2009 and Al-Attiyah recruited the services of his female Dakar co-driver Tina Thörner, from Sweden. The pair had led the Dakar through the early stages that year and went on to win the Qatar event in a privately-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. The success also created a little piece of history for Thörner - she became the first lady ever to win a round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Shortly afterwards, Al-Attiyah began his now successful partnership with Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini. The pair won the 2010 Qatar Rally in a Ford Fiesta S2000 and has now won nine rounds of the regional series in less than two years.

Bernacchini is already the fourth most successful co-driver in the 163-event history of the MERC behind Ireland’s Ronan Morgan, Patterson and Dubai-based English veteran John Spiller.

The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) is offering generous concessions and an assistance package to international entrants. Teams will be offered six nights’ free accommodation (room and breakfast) in one twin-bedded room for driver and co-driver. The final date for registration is Thursday, January 20th, 2011.

For further information about the 2011 Qatar International Rally, contact Marie-Lou Cruz, Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation (QMMF), PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 437 9884/9885, Fax: + 974 437 9761, E-mail: marielou.cruz@qmmf.com.qa and website: www.qmmf.com


Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2011 Qatar International Rally, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)


Date issued: 18/01/2011

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