CC Sealine Rally heads out of Losail on Monday morning
Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar – April 18-24, 2015
2015 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 3
2015 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, round 2
For immediate release
Sunday, April 19th, 2015
RECORD ENTRY HEADS OUT OF LOSAIL FOR START
OF SEALINE CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY ON MONDAY
· Qatar’s Al-Attiyah looks to avenge Abu Dhabi disappointment with Sealine win
· Russian Vladimir Vasilyev starts Sealine Rally with 29-point FIA World Cup lead
DOHA (Qatar): Qatar’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally gets underway from the Losail International Circuit on Monday morning and a record entry of cars, motorcycles and quads will face five days of demanding competition through the deserts of Qatar.
With the prospect of temperatures in the high thirties, strong desert winds and a gruelling route across the remotest terrain the country, it was vital that the competitors completed their preparations thoroughly before the start.
Following Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah’s disputed disqualification from the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for a minor technical infringement, Russian Mini driver Vladimir Vasilyev holds a 29-point lead in the FIA World Cup Cross-Country Rallies after two rounds. Vasilyev is the defending champion, but faces a stern test of his driving ability and the navigating skills of his co-driver Konstantin Zhiltsov if he is to extend that series lead at the Sealine finish on Friday afternoon.
Al-Attiyah is determined to get back on track after the Abu Dhabi disappointment. “We have appealed against that decision and await the outcome,” said Nasser. “But, saying that, I must move on and what better way than to ensure that we take victory here on my home race in Qatar and move into contention for the championship again.
“It has been a tremendous season so far and I am confident that Matthieu and I can take the win. We have a good starting position (four) and I understand the strong winds are going to die down over the next 24 hours, so it’s looking good.”
Last year’s Sealine winner faces a strong challenge from a further four Mini All4 Racings entered by the German X-raid team and a trio of Toyota Hiluxes, prepared and entered by the Belgian Overdrive Racing team.
England’s Harry Hunt made an impressive cross-country debut in Abu Dhabi to finish third and Dutchman Erik van Loon, Poland’s Adam Malysz and the two-time Dakar winner Joan Roma complete the X-raid line-up with his new co-driver Alex Haro.
“I made a great start to my new challenge in cross-country rallying and enjoyed the first event immensely,” said Hunt. “But now, I suppose, there is a little pressure on me to perform here and take on board any advise I am given.”
Overdrive’s driving trio need to get back into contention for the FIA World Cup after a disappointing result in Abu Dhabi over terrain that better suited the torque of the diesel-turbo engine in the Minis. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Poland’s Marek Dabrowski and Brazilian Reinaldo Varela drive the three V8-engined cars.
Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal (Hummer H3) and Dutchman Dennis Kuipers (HRX Ford) round off the list of 11 FIA priority drivers.
Qatar has strength in depth on the entry list: the 1993 FIA Middle East rally champion Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani is entered in a Ford Raptor, while Abdullah Al-Raban, Jaralla Jahman, Jamal Fakhroo, Abdullah Al-Baker, Khalid Al-Mohannadi and Mohammed Al-Hargan round off the local drivers on the list. “This is my first cross-country rally and I have chosen one of the toughest in the calendar to begin with,” admitted Al-Baker.
There has been an explosion of interest in cross-country rallying in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Al-Rajhi should be joined at the Losail start by fellow countryman and last year’s Ha’il Rally winner Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Ahmed Al-Gashimi, Omar Allahim, Khalid Al-Feraihi and Yaser Seaidan.
GCC interest is bolstered by an entry for the Emirati driver Mansoor Al-Helai. “My father has driven competitively against the very best in the world and won a stage at the Desert Challenge last month. I have started from the bottom, gaining experience and listening tp others when I can. I am progressing well and the goal is to achieve more each time I race,” said Helai.
French, Kazakh, Brazilian, Dutch, Polish, Peruvian and Russian entrants complete the impressive international driver line-up. The QMMF have also attracted a number of entrants in the T2 category. Russia’s Denis Berezovskiy, Lebanon’s Emil Kneisser and the Brazilian Marcos Ermino Moraes top the field.
Several of the GCC entrants, FIA priority drivers and leading quad and motorcycle riders attended a series of pre-event press conferences at the Losail circuit on Sunday in the presence of Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, president of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and FIA vice-president MENA.
Twenty-three bikes and four quads will join the cars for over 1,780 kilometres of desert competition in a compact route of over 1,900km.
This year’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally is being organised by the QMMF with support from GAC and the Salam International Group. Issa Abdulsalam Abu Issa, chairman and CEO of Salam International, and Mikko Wieru, general manager of GAC in Qatar, joined Al-Attiyah at a sponsor’s press conference that followed the presentation of the drivers and riders to an impressive line-up of local and international media.
Tomorrow (Monday), riders and drivers will leave Losail from 09.30hrs and take a 50.34km road liaison to the start of a 201.94km selective section that finishes 940 metres from the bivouac at Sealine, south of Doha.
2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally – leading starters
201. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing
202. Erik van Loon (NED)/Wouter Rosegaar (NED) Mini All4 Racing
203. Harry Hunt (GBR)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing
204. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing
205. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottchalk (DEU) Overdrive Toyota Hilux
206. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Mini All4 Racing
207. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux
208. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux
209. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Mini All4 Racing
210. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) H3 Evo 7
211. Dennis Kuipers (NED)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL) HRX Ford
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – positions after round 2:
1. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 81 pts
2. Erik van Loon (NED) 52 pts
3. Harry Hunt (GBR) 32 pts
4. Tapio Suominen (FIN) 30 pts
5. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 24 pts
6. Marek Dabrowski (POL) 22 pts
7. Ahmed Al-Fahim (ARE) 18 pts
8. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) 16 pts
8. Orlando Terranova (ARG) 16 pts
10. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE) 12 pts
10. Adam Malysz (POL) 12 pts, etc
Follow the rally live:
http://qmmf.cronobandeira.com/m - for mobile phones
SPECTATOR VANTAGE POINTS
Day 1 – Monday
1. SS1 – 58.36 km (1st bike 11.25hrs/1st car 12.40hrs) approx.
Leave Salwa Rd at exit 42 turning right
Follow the route for 6 km
The cars and bikes are visible for around 1km on a fast track.
2. SS1 – 135.33 km (1st bike 12.10hrs/1st car 13.25hrs) approx.
Leave Salwa Rd at exit 24 turning left
After 11.5km turn right at the roundabout into Al-Kharrara Road.
Follow the route for 16km.
The cars and bikes climb a small hill before crossing the tarmac road.
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2015 Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar Mobile: + 974 55292739, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases). Facebook group: 2011-2012 MERC. Twitter: @LordPerkins