MERC Entries begin to flood in for UAE International Rally

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

For immediate release
Tuesday, January 18th, 2005


Qatar's Al-Attiyah enters in a Subaru; Saudi Arabia's Al-Sabban confident

ABU DHABI (UAE): Under the patronage of His Highness Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Minister of Interior, entries are flooding in for the ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally, which takes place on February 2nd-4th.

The event is the opening round of the 2005 FIA Middle East Rally Championship and is being organised in Al-Ain for the first time by the Automobile and Touring Car Club. Among the first drivers to notify officials of his intention to compete is the 2003 FIA regional champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. He will use an Autotek Motorsport-built Subaru Impreza WRX STi for the second season.

The Qatari finished second overall in last year's championship, after a tense final round battle against the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, but the Qatar Rally Team driver is determined to make up for that disappointment by getting his 2005 Middle East rally campaign off to a winning start.

After finishing 10th overall in the Dakar Rally in 2004, Al-Attiyah took part in the event again last week and was lying fourth overall at the start of the stage between Tidjikja and Atar in Mauritania, before rolling his BMW X5 out of the race in a high-speed accident.

He returned to the Middle East as soon as possible to begin his preparations for the UAE event, which will be based at the Hilton Hotel in Al-Ain. ~It was obviously disappointing to retire from the Dakar Rally, after being in such a strong position,~ said Nasser. ~But that is what makes the Dakar so difficult. Not I must switch my attentions to the UAE Rally. There will be new stages this year and I must ensure that I am fully-prepared to compete against what I expect will be a top class entry.~

The second entry to be received by the organisers was the name of Saudi Arabian driver Ahmed Al-Sabban, who plans to tackle the series again this year with Irish co-driver Killian Duffy in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7. ~I enjoyed my best season so far in 2004 and I have every reason to think that I can improve on my fourth place in the overall points' tables in 2005.~

The first international entrant was Britain's David Scialom and new co-driver Andy Tatham. David has been a regular in the regional championship for the last two seasons and will tackle the two-day, all-desert rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 5. He finished sixth overall in Qatar last year and seventh in Oman.

~We are expecting between 30 and 40 drivers to take part in the rally on the final entry list,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheit, Chairman of the Organising Committee. ~We are delighted with the names we have received so far. It looks as though the 2005 Middle East series will be the most competitive in the history of the championship.~

Additional support for the 2005 ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally comes from Etihad Airways, the official airline of the rally, Gulf Commercial Group for copiers, Sky Electronics for computers, Nissan Motors and the Hilton Hotel Al-Ain.

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: 18/01/2005

For further information or assistance please contact:

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