MERC Al-Rajhi and Orr lead Kuwait Rally after Sirbb special stage
2014 KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, March 20-22, 2014
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round two
For immediate release
Thursday, March 20th, 2014
YAZEED AL-RAJHI AND MICHAEL ORR LEAD KUWAIT
INTERNATIONAL RALLY AFTER OPENING SIRBB STAGE
· Al-Attiyah and Al-Qassimi tied for second overall
· Eidan leads Kuwait challenge; Al-Mutawee tops Abu Dhabi Juniors
· Lebanon’s Michel Saleh blows Subaru turbo on opening stage
· Six desert stages south of Kuwait City planned for Friday
SIRBB (Kuwait): Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr edged into a slender lead at the end of the opening 1.8km Sirbb special stage of the Kuwait International Rally, held at the impressive new karting venue on the outskirts of Kuwait City on Thursday evening.
The Ford Fiestas RRC crew set a time of 1min 40.5sec and that was enough to beat both Khalid Al-Qassimi and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah by eight tenths of a second to steal the bragging rights before the event proper gets underway in the southern Kuwaiti desert on Friday morning.
Salah bin Eidan was classified as the leading Kuwaiti driver in seventh position. Mohamed Al-Mutawee was the quickest of the five Abu Dhabi Racing Juniors in his Citroën DS3 R3.
Twenty-two cars were flagged away from the podium adjacent to the circuit by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Mansoor Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, director general of the public authority for youth and sports, in the presence of Sheikh Ali Al-Fawaz Al-Sabah, chairman of the board of directors of the Kuwait Quarter Mile Auto & Motorcycle Club (KMRC), and Sheikh Athbi Nayef Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, chairman of the organising committee of the Kuwait International Rally.
Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, FIA vice president for sport MENA and president of the Qatar Motor & Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) was also in attendance and flagged away several of the cars before heading back to Qatar for this weekend’s MotoGP.
There was also a special presentation to veteran drivers Michel Saleh, Ahmed Al-Thafiri and Ali Al-Biramei, the podium finishers in the first Kuwait round of the MERC held in 1984.
But Saleh’s enjoyable afternoon was soon to be ruined when he ground to a halt on the Sirbb stage after blowing the turbo and the resultant oil leakage caused a substantial delay for the remaining nine cars while errant oil was removed from the track surface.
Saudi Arabia’s Saeed Al-Mouri suffered engine crankshaft issues on the eve of the start and was not able to make the starting ceremony with his Skoda Fabia S2000.
Tomorrow (Thursday), there will be three special stages repeated twice. The first 13.46km section has been renamed ‘Misfer’ in memory of the 2010 FIA Middle East rally champion Misfer Al-Marri, who passed away after an illness last month.
That opening special starts at 09.56hrs and precedes runs through the longest stage of the rally, named Kheiran (30.23km), at 10.17hrs and Al-Zour (22.53km) at 10.55hrs.
Teams then head to a regroup and service stop at the Seashell Julai’a Hotel and Resort, south of Kuwait City, before the three timed stages are repeated on Friday afternoon at 13.03hrs, 13.24rs and 14.02hrs.
The event finishes at the Safir Hotel and Residences in Fintas at 4.30pm on Saturday after a further six special stages.
2014 Kuwait International Rally – positions after SS1 (20.40hrs):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC 1min 40.5sec
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RRC 1min 41.3sec
2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Citroën DS3 RRC 1min 41.3sec
4. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC 1min 42.5sec
5. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Adel Hussein (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1min 47.9sec
6. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Catherine Derousseaux (FRA) Ford Fiesta RRC 1min 48.3sec
7. Salah Bin Eidan (KWT)//Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Ford Fiesta R5 1min 48.7sec
8. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Ford Fiesta R5 1min 48.8sec
9. Mohamed Al-Mutawaa (ARE)/Stephen McAuley (GBR) Citroën DS3 R3 1min 50.2sec
10. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Mubarak Al-Thefiri (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1min 52.2sec
11. Saeed Bintowq (ARE)/Allan Harryman (GBR) Citroën DS3 R3 1min 54.6sec
12. Elie Chachati (KWT)/Naji Sfeir (LBN) Subaru Impreza 1min 55.5sec
13. Mohamed Al-Sahlawi (ARE)/Craig Parry (GBR) Citroën DS3 R3 1min 56.2sec
13. Dawood Al-Gharabally (KWT)/Abdulla Al-Ghanim (KWT) Subaru Impreza 1min 56.2sec
15. Ali Saleh (KWT)/Fares Al-Thafiri (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 1min 56.5sec
16. Mansoor Belhelai (ARE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (ARE) Citroën DS3 R3 1min 57.5sec
17. Juma Al-Falaisi (ARE)/John Higgins (IRL) Citroën DS3 R3 1min 58.1sec
18. Edith Weiss (DEU)/Vicky Psarali (GRC) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2min 01.0sec
19. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT)/Anwar Al-Shraah (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2min 05.9sec
20. Abdullah Al-Ansari (KWT)/Ahmad Al-Ansari (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 2min 09.2sec
21. Nada Zeidan (QAT)/Kamal Khoder (QAT) Subaru Impreza 2min 10.5sec
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For further information:
English: Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, international media officer, 2014 Kuwait International Rally, Kuwait Mobile: +965 97849064, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @LordPerkins
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).
Arabic: Firas Nimri, Arabic media officer, Kuwait mobile: + 965 97849315, Mobile: + 962 777 282000, E-mail: email@example.com.