MERC Leading crews arrive in Doha for this weekend's Qatar International Rally

Qatar International Rally
2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1

For immediate release
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012


· New stages and demanding terrain to challenge crews in Qatar
· 2010 regional champion Misfer Al-Marri returns to MERC
· Transportation difficulties thwart Hijazi’s Ford S2000 debut

DOHA (Qatar): As the Middle East’s leading drivers arrive in the State of Qatar to make their final preparations for this weekend’s Qatar International Rally, round one of the 2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, officials at the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) have announced changes to the route for the two-day, all-desert rally.

The event will consist of 12 special stages, six on both Friday and Saturday, and clerk of the course Elie Semaan has admitted that the organising team have made several changes to the format.

“Our first stage, Mekaines, is around nine kilometres longer than the one we used in 2011 and will run in reverse,” admitted Semaan. “Stage two at Salwa is 30% different and the third stage on Friday is nearly all new and the sections we have used again are run in reverse.

“Saturday’s stages are quite scenic and several sections run close to the sea and near an area of mangroves. The ninth Al-Wakra special, the third one on day two, is quite different to last year.” In a route of 621.31km, 263.58km will be competitive.

The opening round of the 2012 series also marks the dramatic return of Misfer Al-Marri to the MERC after a 12-month absence. Al-Marri clinched the regional title in 2010 at the wheel of an Autotek-run Subaru Impreza and again teams up with Italian co-driver Nicola Arena to challenge for honours in a new Mitsubishi Lancer R4. The Qatari is seeded at two.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s Ammar Hijazi will not be on the final starting list for the weekend’s event after transportation delays from M-Sport in England to Qatar meant that the Jordanian had to postpone the debut of his new Ford Fiesta S2000.

Hijazi, who switched from a Skoda Fabia to the Ford for the 2012 season, will now have to wait until the next round to use his car alongside Lebanese co-driver Joseph Matar.

There is still a pair of S2000 cars on the provisional starting list in Qatar, with defending champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah starting as the top seed in his Peugeot 207 S2000 and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari set to debut a Prodrive-built Mini S2000 on his home event.


Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2012 Qatar International Rally, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)


Date issued: 24/01/2012

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