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CC New Qatar Baja heads into southern Qatar deserts

2004 Mitsubishi Motors Qatar Baja
November 25th-27th, 2004

For immediate release
Friday, November 26th, 2004

EXCITING NEW QATAR BAJA HEADS INTO THE
SOUTHERN QATAR DESERTS ON SATURDAY

Teams praise compact and testing format;
Foreign teams praise QMMF's efforts

DOHA (Qatar): The Mitsubishi Motors Qatar Baja got underway on Friday evening, north of Doha, with a timed four-kilometre Prologue stage to determine starting positions for Saturday's competitive action in the southern deserts of the State of Qatar.

An international entry of 33 bikes, 12 quads and 22 cars have entered Qatar's first Baja for 11 years, being organised by the progressive Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF). Already the event has found favour with a number of first-time visitors to Qatar and looks on course to be accepted by the FIA as a regular Baja championship round for the future.

A strong Italian contingent arrived in Qatar back in 1993 for the maiden Qatar Baja Cube. One of those competitors was a lady by the name of Guisy Concina, who ended her first Qatar event in hospital after an accident. But she is back this year to drive a Nissan Patrol in the national category running behind the international car entry. Guisy is partnered by Fabrizio Risi and is the only female car driver in the Baja.

~It is great to be back here competing,~ said Concina. ~I have visited the UAE Desert Challenge several times in a media and logistics capacity, but here I am wearing a competitors' badge and looking forward to the stage on Saturday very much.~

QMMF officials have been delighted by the positive feedback they have received to this new event. ~It is really pleasing to see so many overseas competitors here for the Baja,~ said QMMF President Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah at a packed press conference.

~After the Prologue the rally is based in the desert on Saturday and my advise to all competitors before the start was to take great care in our dunes. The wind blows off Qatar in a different direction and several of the dunes can be very deceptive and need to be treated with great care. They are unique in terms of shape and definition and can be very tricky.~

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah signed a contract with Germany's Sven Quandt shortly before the start in Doha to drive a diesel-engined BMW X5 Rally-Raid in January's Dakar Rally, but Nasser is keen to kick-start his Saharan preparations with a win at home on Saturday. ~I have a powerful Pro Truck on the Baja. It is certainly a challenge to drive and great fun,~ said Al-Attiyah.

Mitsubishi's Joan Roma and his team manager Dominique Serieys flew into Doha on Friday morning to begin their brief visit to the Baja. ~This is Joan's first proper rally and an invaluable opportunity for the two of us to get better acquainted as a team in the car,~ said his experienced co-driver Henri Magne. ~It should be a nice rally and very useful for us before the Dakar.~

The 21-strong British motorcycle contingent have praised the efforts of the Baja organisers. ~I can see this event having a place in the calendar where it is used as a training ground and final preparation for the Dakar Rally in the future,~ said rider Patsy Quick. ~The competitive section uses a wide range of terrain. New riders can get their first taste of the dunes on the Baja and this could be very popular among novice riders taking up the sport.

~There are several British riders here who have never driven in the dunes before and this will be a massive learning curve for them,~ added a team spokesman.

German rider Karl-Heinz Holz is currently working with Spain's Pau Soler on a project at the Losail circuit in Qatar and is a veteran of numerous enduro races in Europe. But he admits that the Baja is a very different proposition. ~I have never driven in sand dunes before,~ said the German. ~This will be totally new. I drove a car here last week and got stuck, so it could be a busy day! But it is always exciting to try something new for the first time.~

Mark Powell is tackling his first motorsport event outside the UAE and reckons that his powerful V8-engined Land Rover Defender will be ideally suited to the demands of the Qatar Baja. ~This event is a new experience for us and we have received tremendous support from the local Land Rover dealer. Now it is time to repay them with a podium finish.~

Saturday's action kicks off with the first 230 kms selective section at 07.00 hrs, with cars entered in the international category set for two passes through the stage. Bikes, quads and national category cars will have one pass through the stage, which heads in and out of the Sealine Resort on Qatar's east coast.

The selective initially heads north towards Zarqa, before turning due west and south-west via Umm Jawlaq, Al-Kharrarah and into the remote Al Jaow Al-Ramli. The route then heads east and back across the Old Saudi Border Road, skirting the picturesque Inland Sea, before running in a northerly direction up the east coast to the Sealine assistance point, where the survivors will arrive via a steep climb over a stunning dune complex.

Ends

For further media information: Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, 2004 Qatar Baja Press Officer, Bukka Room, Ramada Hotel, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 4417155, Fax: + 974 4417158, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
and
Hassan Oudeh, Arabic Press Officer, Tel: Qatar mobile + 974 5309872, Fax: + 974 4379761, E-mail: ha_oudeh@hotmail.com www.qmmf.com

Date issued: 26/11/2004

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