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MERC Jordanian and Saudi stars head for Dubai International Rally

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

For immediate release
Saturday, November 20th, 2004

JORDANIAN AND SAUDI STARS HEAD
FOR DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Prince Khaleed bin Sultan and Ahmed Al-Sabban lead Saudi challenge; Amjad Farrah leads five-strong Jordanian team

DUBAI (UAE): The Dubai International Rally, which brings this year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship to a conclusion on December 1st-3rd, has attracted a strong representation from other Middle Eastern countries. Both the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be strongly represented by several of the region's leading drivers.

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.

Spearheading the Saudi challenge will be the experienced Ahmed Al-Sabban, who made his competitive debut in the regional series 12 years ago at the wheel of a Group N Ford Escort RS Cosworth and has been one of the regular supporters of rallying in the showroom or Group N category ever since.

This year Al-Sabban has enjoyed one of his most successful seasons with young Irish co-driver Killian Duffy and will be hoping to complete his programme with a podium finish. He currently lies equal fourth in the points' standings and can mathematically finish third in the overall championship.

Toyota Team Saudi Arabia entered a trio of rally-prepared Toyota RAV4s in the Middle East series three years ago for the first time, under the management of former regional champion Abdullah Bakhashab, and these cars have become a regular sight on select rallies. This year four Toyotas have been in action and have run in their own competition behind the homologated cars on the entry list.

The Saudi duo of Sultan Hamdi and Mohammed Khashoggi have been competitive this season and line up against fellow Saudi teams of Majed Al-Ghamdi and Amr Alrefai and HRH Prince Khaleed Bin Sultan from the Saudi Royal family and his co-driver Hani Terazi in identically-prepared cars. A fourth Toyota has been entered by Abdullah Al-Dossari and Ali Alsayarisa.

Amjad Farrah created history back in May by becoming the first Jordanian driver in history to win the Jordan Rally. He was in contention for the overall championship earlier in the season, but lost points on an FIA techniciality in Bahrain in March and failed to add to his tally in Syria in September. He and co-driver Khaled Zakaria will be hoping to end the season on a positive note in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7.

Faris Bustami is a former Jordanian national champion and has taken part in select rounds of the championship in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6. He has three championship points after taking an excellent sixth place in Syria and teams up with Imad Juma in Dubai as part of the Alzaher Rally Team. This is a two-car team with Bustami's colleagues Asem Aref and Ala'a Al-Hamood entered in an older Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 4. Completing the five-strong Jordanian line-up are Tamer Tabbaa and co-driver Saeed Mufleh and former Volvo 244 driver Mohammed Juma in a Subaru Impreza.

~It is a major boost for the regional championship when we see drivers from as far afield as Jordan and Saudi Arabia entering the Dubai International Rally in numbers,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheet, President of the Organising Committee. ~None of them are in contention for the overall or 1600 championships, but it speaks volumes about the popularity of rallying in the region when we see them attending the final round here in Dubai.~

The season's finale is again based at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai. and offers 14 special stages. Additional support for the rally comes from GTS Recovery, the Gulf Commercial Group, Space Imaging Middle East, Sky Electronics and AMD.

Ends

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: 20/11/2004

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