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WRC Middle East Championship leader looks ahead to Dubai Rally

2004 Dubai International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, final round

For immediate release
Sunday, November 14th, 2004

UAE'S KHALID AL-QASSIMI LOOKS AHEAD TO
DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY CHALLENGE

Power Horse driver prepares for final chapter in 2004 Middle East Championship battle

Dubai (UAE): The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi returned to the UAE on Saturday after the disappointment of retiring his Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi from the Telstra Rally Australia, the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Al-Qassimi and Yorkshire-based co-driver Steve Lancaster had been lying 25th in the overall standings on one of the world's toughest rallies before they left the road and were stuck in a Western Australian ditch for over an hour.

But now Sheikh Khalid is fully aware that he must not let the thought of that accident cloud preparations for what promises to be the most important event in his rally career. He will team up with his usual Ulster co-driver Michael Orr for the crucial final rally in this year's programme.

The former FIA Middle East Group N Rally Champion is just one event away from being crowned FIA Middle East Rally Champion and knows that eighth place or better in the two-day Dubai International Rally at the start of December will be sufficient for him to join illustrious names such as Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Saeed Al-Hajri, Mamdouh Khayat and Abdullah Bakhashab as a regional rally champion.

~Yes, there will be pressure on me and I am aware of that,~ said Sheikh Khalid. ~But I have more experience now than I did last year and I am a better all-round driver. Nasser Saleh will be pushing flat out for the win, because he has to win the rally to stand a chance of taking the title. I need just one point. Realistically that means that I have to finish the race and I will be champion.

~But that sounds easier than it will actually be. The Dubai Rally always attracts a strong entry and I know that several drivers would like to win the last rally of the season for their sponsors. The stages are difficult and can be hard on the cars. I will need to find a pace which keeps me in the points and also preserves the car.~

Al-Qassimi's Australian team manager Ron Cremen is also a former Middle East champion, having won the Formula Two title in the mid-1990s. ~Khalid knows what he has to do in Dubai and is ready to finish the job we started in Abu Dhabi in January. When we teamed up with sponsor Power Horse, the goal was the Middle East Championship title.

~There have been ups and downs along the way. Motorsport would not be motorsport without your fair share of problems. But the disappointment of retiring in Oman in April and Australia last weekend was offset by Khalid taking two terrific outright wins in Bahrain and Syria this season. Now there is one final chapter in the book we need to finish in Dubai in three weeks.~

The Dubai International Rally will again be based at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai and takes place on December 2nd-3rd. Additional sponsorship for the event, which is organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates, comes from GTS Recovery, the Gulf Commercial Group, Space Imaging Middle East, Sky Electronics and AMD.

Ends

For further media information: Neil Perkins, 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)

Date issued: 14/11/2004

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