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MERC ATC of the UAE announces 2004 Dubai International Rally

2004 Dubai International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 8 of 8

For immediate release
Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

AUTOMOBILE AND TOURING CLUB OF THE UAE
ANNOUNCES DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Compact format and challenging stages for season finale;
UAE's Al-Qassimi set for duel with Qatar's Al-Attiyah

DUBAI (UAE): The Automobile and Touring Car Club of the United Arab Emirates announced the 2004 Dubai International Rally today (Wednesday). The event is the final round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship and takes place on December 1st-3rd under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Department.

Based at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai, the two-day, all-desert special stage rally will see the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi go head-to-head with Qatar's defending champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah to decide the outcome of the FIA regional series.

Al-Qassimi currently has a nine-point lead in the championship over his Subaru rival and needs to finish in the top eight places to guarantee taking his maiden title, even if Al-Attiyah repeats last year's success and takes outright victory.

The Dubai International Rally is traditionally one of the strongest rounds of the series in terms of organisational strength and the level of entries received and the ATC of the UAE is hopeful that over 40 international drivers will take part in the traditional finale to the region's annual off-road motorsport calendar.

~Our organising team have laid on a challenging and varied route for this year's event,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheit, the President of the Organising Committee. ~The stages on day one will take place to the south of Dubai in the Hatta region over rocky and twisty stages and day two action will be centred around the Fossil Rock region and smoother gravel stages to the east of Margham.

The Dubai International Rally has produced some thrilling battles for the Middle East Championship in recent seasons, but only a handful of drivers have managed to win the Dubai International Rally since 1990. Mohammed Ben Sulayem has dominated the event in recent years, taking an unprecedented 15 outright victories, although Al-Attiyah's win last season was the first ever by a Qatari driver.

The organising team will include Sweden's Bengt Gustafson, returning to the role of Clerk of the Course. ~We have tried to find stages which fit into the compact format needed for modern day FIA rallies, without detracting from the quality of terrain needed to make the event a challenge,~ said Gustafson.

Entries have already been received from as far afield as the UK and Italy and the organisers are hopeful that the strict new rules and regulations which the regional series has adhered to this season will attract a number of newcomers to the special stages in December.

~It was only 12 months ago that we tried a new car tracking system for the first time on a special stage rally in the Middle East, with a view to using it this year,~ added Bakheit. ~Its use to track the progress and path of cars has transformed the championship into one of the most exciting in the world and we are confident that this year's Dubai International Rally will be the most popular yet.~

The organisers are offering generous concessions to overseas foreign entrants, including six free nights stay in a twin room for driver and co-driver, two economy class air tickets for crews, start money, freight assistance and entry visas, where applicable.

For further information on entries and full concessions, please contact the ATC of the UAE, PO Box 5078, Dubai, UAE. Tel: + 9714 2284019, Fax: + 9714 2283159, e-mail: atcuae@emirates.net.ae. www.dubairally.com

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, Dubai International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, NCH Building, Upper Bar, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 7EH, United Kingdom, Tel: + 44 1952 825078, Fax: + 44 1952 825001, Tel: Dubai mobile + (971 50) 3616881, UK mobile + 44 7831 123153 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

Date issued: 20/10/2004

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