MERC Hamed Al-Wahaibi claims fourth place in Dubai International Rally
33rd DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, final round - December 1-3, 2011
For immediate release
Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
OMAN’S HAMED AL-WAHAIBI FINISHES
FOURTH IN DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY
· Al-Attiyah wins Dubai Rally to claim seventh MERC title
· Al-Ketbi snatches second; third for Abdullah Al-Qassimi
DUBAI (UAE): Oman’s Hamed Al-Wahaibi and Ulster co-driver Allan Harryman finished an excellent fourth overall in the 33rd Dubai International Rally, the final round of the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), on Saturday.
At the wheel of the Wahaibi Motor Sport (WMS)-run Mitsubishi Evolution X, the Omani was never able to match the powerful S2000 cars over the fast, desert stages on day two but had the consolation of finishing as the top Group N runner in fourth overall.
“We have all been very impressed with the way Hamed has performed on his return to international rallying,” said Ken Skidmore, manager of Al-Attiyah’s Autotek team, which clinched its eighth title in nine years. “He drove in a mature and calculated manner that impressed everyone.”
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini surged through the field to take a storming victory and a seventh Middle East title in nine years. Dubai’s Rashid Al-Ketbi and Khaled Al-Kendi finished second overall and Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi and British co-driver Steve Lancaster were third.
The opening stage times had been cancelled overnight following a Stewards’ meeting and Al-Attiyah was the main beneficiary. The Qatari duly climbed to third overall after setting the fastest time in the Al-Dhaid stage on Saturday morning. Al-Wahaibi was fourth quickest and slipped to fourth place.
Al-Attiyah began to close in on both Al-Ketbi and Al-Qassimi through Zubaidah as well, although Al-Wahaibi was again fourth quickest in the Mitsubishi. He held station through Kadra, where Al-Attiyah was again quickest and managed to dispose of Al-Qassimi to take second place.
The Qatari was now in a relentless pace and snatched the overall rally lead on the re-run of Dhaid, pushing Al-Ketbi into second place. He extended his advantage through Zubaidah. Al-Wahaibi retained fourth position and was comfortably the quickest of the Group N runners. The Omani drove at a measured pace to conserve fourth overall and Al-Attiyah clung on to seal a 37.7s victory and the regional title.
Final positions after Day 2 (unofficial):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta S2000 2h 03m 17.2s
2. Rashid Al-Ketbi (UAE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE) Skoda Fabia S2000 2h 03m 55.0s
3. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Steve Lancaster (GBR) Ford Fiesta S2000 2h 04m 04.0s
4. Hamed Al-Wahaibi (OMN)/Allan Harryman (GBR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2h 07m 37.1s
5. B. Cetinkaya (TRK)/C Guney (TRK) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X 2h 22m 56.0s
6. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KWT)/N Alenezi (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 2h 23m 55.2s
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