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Victory for Al Qassimi in thrilling Syria Rally

2004 Syria International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6 of 8

For immediate release
Friday, September 3rd, 2004

VICTORY FOR UAE'S KHALID AL-QASSIMI
IN THRILLING SYRIA RALLY

Qatar's Al-Attiyah withdraws before the finish; Tsouloftas fights back to take fourth
Podium finishes for UAE's Abdullah Al-Qassimi and Saudi's Ahmed Al-Sabban

SAYDNEYA (Syria): The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr won the fifth Syrian International Rally, round six of this year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship, after 13 timed special stages in the mountains to the north of Damascus on Friday.

Al-Qassimi, who also won the Bahrain International Rally back in March, extended his overall lead in the regional rally series to nine points, after hitting the front on the second special stage, near Saydneya, at the wheel of his Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

Defending Middle East rally champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah set a string of fastest times in his Prodrive-built Subaru, but a series of time-consuming punctures ensured that he could not catch Al-Qassimi on this occasion.

The Qatari, who finished fourth in the Skeet Shooting competition at the recent Athens Olympics, was running under protest over the closing stages, pending an investigation into an alleged illegal servicing incident during leg one. He eventually finished the stages directly behind Al-Qassimi, but withdrew his car at the final service point rather than suffer the ignominy of a Stewards' decision.

~My experience in the World Rally Championship has improved my driving no end,~ admitted Al-Qassimi. ~I knew that Nasser would push hard, but I was able to manage my pace in a suberb way and have given myself a massive boost in my bid to win the championship. He took a lot of time out of me today, but I was too far in front for this to make a difference.~

Al-Attiyah had suffered several flat tyres on his rollercoaster opening day and began the final two loops of three stages, 5m 34s behind the leader. But he managed to pass Sharjah's Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi in the eighth stage on Friday morning and set out on a frantic pursuit of the championship leader on the final gravel stages.

Abdullah Al-Qassimi eventually finished in second place, 6m 06s seconds behind his brother, and Saudi Arabia's Ahmed Al-Sabban clung on to third place over the closing stages. Jordanian driver Amjad Farrah was plagued by transmission problems in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 in the 10th stage and dropped 31 minutes to the leaders and slipped out of the points. Bahrain's Hassan Al-Sadadi lost his place in the top four to a resurgent Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas, who set several top three times on his way back to fourth overall and a strong position in the series to take to his home event in four weeks time.

Dubai's Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum was forced to withdraw during the official recce period after twisting knee ligaments, while Saudi Arabia's Farouk Ghurab and Syria's Haitham Al-Yousifi retired early in the first leg. Lebanon's Michel Saleh suffered broken suspension, Dubai's Rashid Bin Ghurab lost second position with a broken gearbox, but there was 1600 category success for Kuwait's Meshal Al-Nejadi in his Citroen Saxo.

This year the event switched location from stages along the eastern highway towards Palmyra and the Iraqi border to a mountaineous route in the direction of Homs in the Lebanese border region. Out of 27 homologated starters and four Toyota Rav4s running at the rear of the field, 20 cars completed the revised 244 kms of special stages along a route of over 900 kms.

SYRIA RALLY - positions after SS13 (top 8):
1. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Michael Orr (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2h 33m 55s
2. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Gaby Khoury (UAE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 2h 40m 01s
3. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 2h 41m 11s
4. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY)/Savvas Laos (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 2h 42m 05s
5. Hassan Al-Sadadi (BAH)/Keith Wake (BAH) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2h 42m 45s
6. Faris Bustami (HKJ)/Imad Jumaa (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 2h 54m 14s
7. Amir Arnaout (SYR)/Yousef Alasmar (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 2h 57m 00s
8. Yazan Rjleh (SYR)/Jafar Alsouhail (UAE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 3h 02m 14s

2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship:
Positions after round 6 of 8 (Drivers):
1. Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) - Subaru* 35 pts
2. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY) 26 pts
3. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) - Subaru* 24 pts
4. Amjad Farrah (HKJ) 18 pts
4. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA) 18 pts
6. Issa Al-Dossari (KSA) 12 pts
6. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 12 pts
8. Roger Feghali (RL) 10 pts
9. Suhail Khalifa (UAE) 8 pts
9. Michel Saleh (RL) 8 pts
9. Abdo Feghali (RL) 8 pts
12. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) 6 pts
12. Jean-Pierre Nasrallah (RL) 6 pts
14. Bashar Bustami (HKJ) 5 pts
14. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QA) 5 pts
14. Doumit Bou Doumit (RL) 5 pts
14. Amir Arnaout (SYR) 5 pts
14. Hassan Al-Sadadi (BAH) - Subaru* 5 pt
19. Ebrahim Busmait (BAH) 4 pts
20. Henry Massaad (RL) - Renault* 3pts
20. Faris Bustami (HKJ) 3 pts
22. David Scialom (GB) 2 pts
22. Hamed Al-Sowaidi (QA) 2 pts
24. Khalifa Haifaa (SYR) 1pt
24. Toufic Mitri (UAE) 1 pt
24. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) - Citroen* 1 pt
24. Yazan Rijleh (SYR) 1 pt
(* Mitsubishi unless stated)

Positions after round 6 of 8 (Co-Drivers):
1.Michael Orr (GB) 35 pts
2. Khaled Zakaria (HKJ) 18 pts
2. Killian Duffy (IRL) 18 pts
4. Steve Lancaster (GB) 17 pts
5. Chris Patterson (GB) 14 pts
6. Savvas Laos (CY) 13 pts
7. Ramzi Mansour (HKJ) 12 pts
7. Gaby Khoury (UAE) 12 pts
9. Nabil Njeim (RL) 10 pts
10. Ziad Chehab (RL) 8 pts
10. Costas Laos (CY) 8 pts
10. Marc Haddad (RL) 8 pts
13. Nasser Al-Kuwari (QA) 6 pts
13. Wael Marjan (UAE) 6 pts
13. Joseph Matar (RL) 6 pts
16. Ziad Maalouf (RL) 5 pts
16. Andreas Achilleos (CY) 5 pts
18. Nadem Mohammed (BAH) 4 pts
18. Keith Wake (GB) 4 pts
20. Yousef Al-Asmar (HKJ) 3 pts
20. Imad Jumaa (HKJ) 3 pts
20. Adel Hussain (QA) 3 pts
20. Jihad Khalife (RL) 3 pts
24. Ahmad Ghaziri (RL) 2 pts
24. Kevin Clark (GB) 2 pts
24. Michael Morrissey (QA) 2 pts
24. Yousef Alasmar (HKJ) 2 pts
28. Jafar Al-Souhail (UAE) 1 pt
28. Burhan Abu Khoura (HKJ) 1 pt
28. George Aletraris (OM) 1 pt
28. Hamoud Al-Jabry (OM) 1 pt
28. Jafar Alsouhail (UAE) 1 pt

1600 (2WD)
1. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) - Citroen 38 pts
2. Nearchos Nearchou (CY) - Proton 34 pts
3. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT) - Proton 18 pts
4. Abir Batikhi (HKJ) - Opel 12 pts
5. Naji Stephan (RL) - Peugeot 10 pts
5. Ziad Karanouh (RL) - Peugeot 10 pts
7. Luay Abu-Kaff (HKJ) - Peugeot 6 pts

Ends


Date issued: 03/09/2004

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