MERC New Al Ain stages for UAE Rally

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

For immediate release
Sunday, January 2nd, 2005


Compact and challenging route for 2005 MERC season opener;
Jebel Hafeet and Sweihan region set to host ADNOC-backed event

ABU DHABI (UAE): Under the patronage of His Highness Major General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Minister of Interior, the organisers of the 2005 ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally have laid on a challenging new route format to welcome the region's finest rally drivers. The event takes place on February 2nd-4th.

The event is the opening round of the 2005 FIA Middle East Rally Championship and has shifted from its usual Abu Dhabi base to the Hilton Hotel in Al-Ain for the first time. But the movement to a new rally headquarters is just one of a number of exciting innovations outlined by officials at the Automobile and Touring Car Club of the UAE today (Sunday).

~There will be a new 'super-special' stage in Al-Ain on Wednesday, February 2nd,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheit, Chairman of the Organising Committee. ~Then we will use similar stages in the Sweihan region of Abu Dhabi for the first leg as we used in 2004. These will feature slight revisions and improvements, but will all take place in the Al-Ashush, Farms and Al-Mishab areas of the emirate. Servicing will take place in Sweihan.

~The major changes for the event in 2005 will be the introduction of three brand new special stages in Al-Ain, near the renowned Jebel Hafeet hillclimb area. These three gravel stages will be 14.5 kms, 26.5 kms and 13.36 kms in length and should give the second leg of the event a totally different character and offer a new challenge to those drivers who have been to the event many times in the past. All three stages will be repeated twice on the second leg of the rally.~

These new competitive sections and revisions to the existing route have been finalised by officials at the Automobile and Touring Car Club, including Swedish Clerk of the Course Bengt Gustavsson. The weekend's activities will get underway with the traditional podium send-off at the Hilton Hotel in Al-Ain at 15.30 hrs on Wednesday, February 2nd, before the two-kilometre, special stage begins nearby at 16.00 hrs.

Thursday's opening leg offers eight timed desert special stages - two runs through the Al-Ashush, Dunes, Farms and Al-Mishab tests - before the return to the overnight halt in Al-Ain. Friday's final leg gets underway at 09.30 hrs with the first of three new Al-Ain stages in a compact route where there are only 50.50 kms of road liaison in a total day of 159.22 kms. Servicing will be centralised in a second service park on the Oman Road.

The customary podium finish for the opening round of the regional series has been scheduled for the earlier time of 14.24 hrs at the Hilton Hotel in Al-Ain on Friday, February 4th. In a total route of 530.68 kms, there are 15 special stages and 272 kms will be competitive.

Additional support for the 2005 ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally comes 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


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: 02/01/2005

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