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MERC Multiple rally champion Mohammed Ben Sulayem considers a return

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

For immediate release
Monday, November 29th, 2004

MULTIPLE RALLY CHAMPION BEN
SULAYEM CONSIDERS A RETURN

16-times Dubai Rally winner considers the future;
Compact and testing route laid on by ATC of the UAE

DUBAI (UAE): Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the Arab world's most successful rally driver, is considering a dramatic return to the special stages and hasn't ruled out the possibility of trying to win the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for an astonishing 15th time.

He was speaking during the build-up to this weekend's Dubai International Rally, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Department.

Ben Sulayem took a sabattical from rallying at the end of the 2002 season after clinching his record-breaking 14th regional championship and his 16th Dubai International Rally victory in the space of 20 years. But he has closely monitored the resurgence of interest in the regional series and is contemplating a return to the special stages which gave him so much success between 1984 and 2002.

~I am obviously still very actively involved in motorsport in the region through commitments in the UAE and with the UAE Desert Challenge,~ said Ben Sulayem. ~I always follow the progress of the teams in the championship and have been impressed with the interest and support that the series has received since the FIA made the decision to make it a Group N-based formula.

~There are several drivers out there who are competitive and it would be great to come back and compete against them again. I do not know the timescale on this. I have to way up many options in my mind, but it would be nice to see so many friendly faces and some new faces on the events.~

As Ben Sulayem contemplates a potential return over the weekend of an event he controlled for nearly 20 years, this year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship contenders began their two-day reconaissance of the two-day route for this weekend's Dubai International Rally, which will see either Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah or the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi crowned FIA regional champion.

Among the strong overseas contingent from 14 countries is the British amateur driver David Scialom and his co-driver Kevin Clark. Scialom is a British businessman and a close friend of Ken Skidmore, the team manager for defending champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. He has tackled select events this season in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but this will be his first time competing at the Dubai Rally.

In the past David finished ninth overall in the Rally Mikona in Slovakia and eighth overall in the asphalt Rally Rota Do Sol Vidro in Portugal. This season he completed the non-championship Qatar Rally in sixth place and also took part in Bahrain, Jordan and Oman, finishing seventh in Muscat.

Clerk of the Course Bengt Gustavsson has laid on a compact and testing two-day route, with cars scheduled to leave the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai at 09.30 on Thursday morning and head off into the deserts around Margham and Fossil Rock for seven timed stages. A run through the 25.9 kms Margham stage gets the competitive action underway at 10.00, followed by repeat runs through the Fossil Rock, Maleiha and Fili stages.

The second leg on Friday is centred around the rocky deserts to the south. Cars head into the eighth Margham stage at 08.35 and repeat passes through timed sections in Al Rowda, Seih Madam and Masfut bring the event to a conclusion. The finish has been moved forward to the slightly earlier time of 15.15 back at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai.

Additional support 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: + 9714 7054610, Mobile + 971 50 3616881, Fax: + 9714 7054599 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
and
Atala Abousaleh, Dubai International Rally, Arabic Press Officer, Tel: + 9714 7054182, Mobile: + 971 50 6469853, Fax: + 9714 7054599, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 29/11/2004

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