MERC Al-Attiyah teams up with Baumel with goal of 12th Qatar Rally title
2015 QMMF Qatar International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1
For immediate release
Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
AL-ATTIYAH TEAMS UP WITH BAUMEL WITH GOAL
OF 12TH QMMF QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY TITLE
· Qatar International Rally gets underway on Doha Corniche on Thursday at 6pm
· International competitors from 11 nations set for two days of desert stage action
DOHA (Qatar): An unprecedented 12th victory in 13 starts at the Qatar International Rally is the target for top seed Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah at this weekend’s opening round of the 2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
Fresh from leading the prestigious Dakar Rally from the second stage to the finish, the defending regional rally champion has teamed up with his Dakar-winning navigator Matthieu Baumel for the traditional two-day MERC opener across the Qatar deserts.
Making the switch from a Mini All4 Racing to his customary special stage Ford Fiesta RRC should be no problem for a man who has already won 54 regional championship rallies and is now just six short of the record 60 wins achieved by Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
“This is my home event and is always special,” said Nasser. “Winning here, in front of my home fans and at my home club, is the goal again, not only to get the season off to a winning start, but to put another win in the history books.”
The entry of 12 is small by recent Qatar standards, but the quality is there for all to see and Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi will be even more determined to break his Qatar duck and get the season off to a winning start after missing out on the regional title after the Dubai International Rally last December. Al-Qassimi and Chris Patterson are entered in the sole Citroën DS3 on the entry list. Patterson won the Qatar Rally on five occasions with Al-Attiyah between 2004 and 2008 and would love to have another victory notched on his belt.
Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi is chasing a fifth MERC success and a first in Qatar. The Riyadh driver produced one of the performances of the recent Dakar Rally before mechanical issues intervened and cost him a podium finish. He and Michael Orr are committed to a season of MERC competition and need points on the board if they are to make a strong challenge for the title that Orr last won as a co-driver with Al-Qassimi in 2004.
Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari has already announced a WRC2 programme for 2015 and teams up with Killian Duffy to tackle the event he won in 2012 – a success that was the first and only victory for the Mini S2000 in the Middle East. The fourth seed was second last year and pushed Al-Attiyah hard on some stages.
Abdullah Al-Kuwari, Khalifa Al-Attiyah and Khalid Al-Suwaidi bolster the Qatar challenge in a trio of Ford Fiestas, with the Irish duo of Enda Sherry and John Higgins joining local co-driver Adel Hussein on the entry list.
The State of Kuwait will host round two of the series in mid-March and two teams will tackle the Qatar event. Salah bin Eidan lines up alongside new Slovenian co-driver Vili Oslaj in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Competition will come from Qatar’s Rashid Al-Naimi and his experienced Emirati co-driver Arif Yousef Mohammed, while Germany’s Edith Weiss tackles her eighth Qatar Rally in another Mitsubishi Lancer alongside her Greek navigator Vicky Psarakis.
With Iran about to break into FIA international motor sport with the running of the Iran Rally in May, two Tehran Rally Team Subaru Imprezas complete the field. Mohammed Ghalehbani and Seyedmassood Vahedi replace Laleh Seddigh and Elahah Karimi in the lead car and Ali Mesgarha and Vahidreza Vahdatinikzad crew car 16.
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. The special stage action begins on Friday morning.
2015 QMMF Qatar International Rally – list of entries
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Ford Fiesta RRC
2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Citroën DS3 RRC
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC
4. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC
5. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Enda Sherry (IRL) Ford Fiesta R5
6. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Adel Hussein (QAT) Ford Fiesta RRC
7. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)/John Higgins (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC
8. Salah bin Eidan (KUW)/Vili Oslaj (SLO) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
11. Rashid Al-Naimi (QAT)/Arif Yousef Mohammed (ARE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
14. Mohammed Ghalehbani(IRN)/Seyedmassood Vahedi (IRN) Subaru Impreza
15. Edith Weiss (GER)/Vicky Psarakis (GRE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
16. Ali Mesgarha (IRN)/Vahidreza Vahdatinikzad (IRN) Subaru Impreza
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2015 Qatar International Rally, Qatar mobile: + 974 55292739, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases), Twitter: @LordPerkins