MERC ATC of the UAE announces 2005 MERC opener

2005 UAE International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1 of 9

For immediate release
Tuesday, December 14th, 2004


Opening championship event switches to Al-Ain base;
New early February date for UAE International Rally

ABU DHABI (UAE): The Automobile and Touring Car Club of the United Arab Emirates announced initial details of the 2005 UAE International Rally today (Tuesday).

The event will be the opening round of the 2005 FIA Middle East Rally Championship and will take place on the new dates of February 2nd-4th, 2005. The all-desert rally will also switch from its usual headquarters in Abu Dhabi to a new base at the Hilton Hotel in Al-Ain and will be held under the patronage of His Highness Major General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Minister of Interior.

~We have introduced several changes to the opening round of next year's FIA Middle East Championship,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheit, the Chairman of the Organising Committee. ~In recent years the event has been based in Abu Dhabi and there has been a long road section to the stages in the Sweihan region of the Abu Dhabi emirate. So it made sense for the Automobile and Touring Club to make the event more compact and the switch to a base in Al-Ain for the first time was a sensible and obvious one.~

The 2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship has been the best-supported in the history of the regional series and early indications suggest that the 2005 series will be even more popular with numerous GCC and Middle East drivers putting together their plans and preparations for the series. This has been reduced to eight events following the cancellation of the event in Bahrain and permits the use of Group N and Super 1600 cars only.

The organising team will include Sweden's Bengt Gustafsson, returning to the role of Clerk of the Course he also held in the recent Dubai International Rally, which saw the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi crowned FIA Middle East Rally Champion for the first time. Gustafsson is currently finalising the route and the choice of special stages for the February encounter.

The organisers are offering generous concessions to overseas foreign entrants, including a twin room for driver and co-driver, two economy class air tickets for crews and entry visas, where applicable.

The 2005 FIA Middle East Rally Championship will also visit events in Oman in March, Qatar in April, Jordan in May, Lebanon in July and rallies in Syria, Cyprus and Dubai in September, October and December 2005.

For further information on entries and full concessions, please contact the ATC of the UAE, P.O.Box 27487,
Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tel: + (971 2) 6212175, Fax: + (971 2) 6321593, E-mail: atcuae@emirates.net.ae


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, UAE International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, NCH Building, Upper Bar, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 7EH, United Kingdom, Tel: + 44 1952 825078, Fax: + 44 1952 825001, UK mobile + 44 7831 123153 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
Atala Abousaleh, UAE International Rally, Arabic Press Officer, Mobile: + 971 50 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 14/12/2004

For further information or assistance please contact:

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Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1952 825001
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