MERC Rally teams carry out timed reconnaissance of Qatar desert special stages
2015 QMMF Qatar International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1
For immediate release
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
RALLY TEAMS CARRY OUT RECONNAISSANCE OF DESERT
SPECIAL STAGES FOR QMMF QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY
· Can an overseas driver break the Qatari domination of the MERC’s opener?
DOHA (Qatar): Rally teams spent most of Tuesday in the desert taking a close look at the special stages that they will tackle in this weekend’s QMMF Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the 2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has laid on 12 timed desert sections to be staged on Friday and Saturday after the ceremonial start on Doha Corniche on Thursday evening.
Competitors took a look at the tracks that will be used on Thursday first of all and will complete their policed reconnaissance of Saturday’s route on Wednesday, before carrying out compulsory administration checks at the QMMF.
Qatari drivers have dominated the traditional opening round of the regional rally series and have won the event every year since 2002. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah has 11 home wins to his name and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari took a maiden victory in 2012.
Dubai’s Mohammed Ben Sulayem was the last non-Qatari to climb on to the top of the podium. The UAE driver won the event on nine occasions between 1988 and 2002, but no other international driver has managed to break the Qatari stranglehold on local success in the era of World and Regional Rally Cars
The Qatari deserts offer high-speed special stages over rocky terrain, where punctures are an inherent risk, and local knowledge is vital. Sections of some of the stages are used in local national rallies and Qatari drivers have gained crucial experience over the years.
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi have the ability to match and beat the Qataris, but have always fallen just short of the top step of the podium in Doha. The pair were third and fourth overall in 2014 and Al-Qassimi finished as the runner-up in 2013 alongside co-driver Scott Martin.
Al-Qassimi has taken seven career regional rally victories to Al-Rajhi’s four and a first triumph in Qatar cannot be too far away. “I showed on the Dakar that I have the pace to match Nasser and we have shown that on previous Middle East rallies,” said Al-Rajhi. “This is a difficult rally to come and win. The stages are never easy and the local drivers have a lot of experience. It would be fantastic to beat them and take the win.”
Leading competitors will attend the official pre-event press conference at the QMMF at 2pm on Thursday (February 5th), before the ceremonial start gets the event underway at 6pm.
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2015 Qatar International Rally, Qatar mobile: + 974 55292739, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases), Twitter: @LordPerkins