MERC QMMF announces opening round of FIA Middle East rally series in Qatar

2017 Qatar International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1

For immediate release
Monday, January 9th, 2017


· Revised Qatar event to kick-start start shortened five-round series

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has released details of the 2017 Qatar International Rally, which will again kick-start the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), on February 3-4.

Held under the supervision of QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai and Executive Director Sultan Al-Muraikhi, officials at the QMMF in Doha have revised select elements of the event to reduce costs for competitors without sacrificing the challenging nature of the desert stages in Qatar.

This year’s MERC will only be fought out over five rounds in Qatar, Jordan, Cyprus, Lebanon and Iran and that places a far greater emphasis on competitors scoring well on the opening two-day event in the deserts to the west of Doha.

“The stages for this year’s rally will be basically the same as before but, thanks to a new format, the rally will be more compact, less tough and the cost of participation has been reduced,” explained Rally Director Pedro Almeida, who is working alongside Qatari Clerk of the Course Rashid Al-Sulaiti.

Almeida added: “The Losail Circuit will host rally headquarters, Parc Ferme and the starts and finishes of the legs and the main service park.”

Rally officials have proposed 71.62km of competition for day one (February 3) in the draft FIA regulations and that consists of two runs through three special stages with one remote refuelling and no service between the two runs. Almeida admits the stages were carefully chosen in order to avoid stony and rocky sections, which have caused tyre and mechanical problems for competitors in the past.

Three further special stages are planned for the second leg (February 4) and remote servicing has been introduced between the two groups of stages. This has not been a common procedure in the MERC since the halcyon days of the 1980s and early 1990s. A team of four personnel and the crew only will be permitted to work on the cars for 15 minutes and only parts carried in the rally car may be used in repairs, although tyre changes will be permitted.

Reconnaissance of the special stages has also been shortened from two days to one (Wednesday, February 1), registration for reconnaissance and administration checks will take place on Tuesday evening (January 31) and scrutineering and the traditional pre-event press conference are scheduled for Thursday (February 2).

There are two entry packages available to competitors and the entry fee includes one set of road books, two rally guides, two service plates, one auxiliary vehicle plate, 250 litres of fuel and five nights’ accommodation for driver and co-driver (room and breakfast only in one room). Further details are available in the official regulations. Entries close on Wednesday, January 18th.

For further information about the 2017 QMMF Qatar International Rally, contact the Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation (QMMF), Losail Circuit, PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 443 79885, Fax: + 974 443 79732, E-mail: info@qmmf.com and website: www.qmmf.com

Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2017 Qatar International Rally, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases), Twitter: @LordPerkins




Date issued: 09/01/2017

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