MERC Dubai International Rally attracts competitors from 14 countries

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

For immediate release
Thursday, November 11th, 2004


Austrian veteran Rudi Stohl enters Dubai Rally;
Kenyan, British, Turkish and German drivers head for UAE

DUBAI (UAE): The Dubai International Rally has attracted competitors from no less than 14 countries to take part in the two-day, final round of the 2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship on December 1st-3rd.

The event is being organised by the Automobile and Touring Car Club of the United Arab Emirates, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Department.

~The Dubai International Rally has been the traditional final round of the regional rally series for many years,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheit, President of the Organising Committee. ~But this year we have seen renewed interest from overseas competitors from outside the GCC countries and the Middle East. This is a very encouraging sign.

~New FIA regulations have made the sport much closer and more exciting in the last 12 months and this has begun to attract foreign interest. The entry list is still open and drivers are still in contact about coming to take part this year. It bodes well for the future of the sport in the region and the strength of the championship next year.~

Heading the overseas contingent is the experienced Austrian veteran Rudi Stohl and his Austrian female co-driver Elizabeth Wittman, a relation of Franz Wittmann - a former winner of the New Zealand round of the FIA World Rally Championship in the 1980s.

Stohl took part in numerous rounds of the WRC back in the 1980s and collected a reputation as one of the leading amateur drivers on rounds of the series in the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Greece. He took part in several gruelling African WRC rallies in his sturdy Audi Quattro Coupe and has since spent time overseeing the WRC career of his son Manfred Stohl, who visited the Rally of Lebanon himself several years ago.

Ian Duncan was one of the first Kenyan drivers to visit the Dubai International Rally and this year it will be the turn of Don Smith to grace the entry list in a Subaru Impreza. Other key names to feature on the multi-national entry list include Germany's Edith Weiss - who plans to tackle the event in a Skoda Octavia - and the British duo of Howard Paterson and Raj Jutley.

Humberside-based Paterson and his wife Ruth have been taking part in the Dubai International Rally for 10 years and regularly compete in both the UAE and Dubai international rallies. The UK rallyschool owner will wheel out his trusty Volkswagen Golf GTi, as he bids to remain competitive in the two-wheel drive category.

Jutley is an England-based heart surgeon and teams up with Derby's Zaffar Mughal in an Opel Corsa GSI. He has tackled the Dubai Rally and several other Middle East rallies in the past, but his co-driver has significant experience of the region, having partnered Amrik Sehmbi on numerous Gulf rallies since the mid-1990s.

Turkey will be represented in the Dubai International Rally on this occasion. The country has a growing motorsport following and joined the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in 2003. The Turkish Federation is also on an FIA shortlist to run a future Formula One Grand Prix. Alpetkin Isikalp and Suren Caglar enter the Dubai International Rally for the first time in a nimble Citroen Saxo.

The event is again based at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai. There will a total of 16 special stages, eight on December 2nd and eight on December 3rd. The competitive distance will total 267.20 kms in a route of 682.28 kms. Additional support for the event comes from GTS Recovery, the Gulf Commercial Group, Space Imaging Middle East, Sky Electronics and AMD.

For further information 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


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, Dubai International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Tel: Dubai mobile + (971 50) 3616881, UK mobile + 44 7831 123153 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
Atala Abousaleh, Dubai International Rally, Arabic Press Officer, Dubai mobile: + (971 50) 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 11/11/2004

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