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MERC Opening MERC event takes shape in the Abu Dhabi deserts

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

For immediate release
Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

OPENING MIDDLE EAST RALLY TAKES
SHAPE IN THE ABU DHABI DESERTS

ADNOC Distribution confirms support for UAE Rally;
Driver and team registration confirmed for 2005 MERC

ABU DHABI (UAE): The 2005 UAE International Rally has attracted support from title sponsor ADNOC Distribution and will be held under the patronage of His Highness Major General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Minister of Interior, on February 2nd-4th.

Officials at the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates are busy piecing together the route format and detailed timetable for the opening round of the 2005 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Meanwhile, the FIA has introduced a new championship registration system to increase the importance and awareness of the region's premier rally series and attract an increasing number of competitors. ~It will be necessary for drivers and teams to register for the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 2005,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheit, the Chairman of the event's Organising Committee.

~This is a new concept and should give people a better idea of who will be competing for the entire championship. Teams and drivers will have to commit at the start of the year and they will have to register before the opening event, otherwise points earned in Abu Dhabi will not be awarded.~

The FIA has also permitted the ongoing use of two-wheel drive cars in rounds of the regional series. Teams competing across the gravel desert tracks around Sweihan and Al-Ain in February will be able to do so in any form of homologated Group N car, in addition to two-wheel-drive cars up-to-1600cc, Super 1600 and Kit Cars, Super 2000 cars and a new category for supercharged, diesel-engined cars, which are two-wheel drive and are fitted with engines up-to-2000 cc.

~The 2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship was the strongest on record with a number of security and safety improvements creating a level and fair playing field for all competitors,~ said the FIA's Derek Ledger. ~Now we can build upon this and ensure that the regional championship enters a new and exciting phase of rapid expansion.~

Sweden's Bengt Gustavsson is currently finalising the route for the opening round of the series and, in his role of Clerk of the Course, has promised a varied and challenging route to test those drivers hoping to wrest the regional FIA Drivers' Championship title away from the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi.

Based at the Hilton Hotel in the scenic oasis city of Al-Ain for the first time, the ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally has attracted further support from the Gulf Commercial Group for Copiers, GTS and Towing Services.

For further information on entries and concessions for foreign and non Gulf-based teams, 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 www.atcuae.org

Ends

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)
and
Atala Abousaleh, UAE International Rally, Arabic Press Officer, Mobile: + 971 50 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 21/12/2004

For further information or assistance please contact:

NDP Publicity Services
Holly House, Station Road, Newport,
Shropshire TF10 7EN United Kingdom

Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1952 825001
Mobile: + 44 (0) 7831 123153 (UK)

Email: ndppublicity@googlemail.com

Web: www.ndp-publicity.com

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