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MERC Power Horse enters two cars in Bahrain Rally

2005 Bahrain International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 2 of 9

For immediate release
Saturday, February 19th, 2005

POWER HORSE WORLD RALLY TEAM ENTERS
TWO CARS IN BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi joined by UAE's Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum;
Power Horse to sponsor second round of FIA Middle East rally series

MANAMA (Bahrain): Defending FIA Middle East rally champion Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi will take part in next weekend's Bahrain International Rally, the second round of the 2005 regional series, as he and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr bid to win the event for a second successive season.

But the Power Horse World Rally Team driver will be joined on the two-day gravel event by a second car being driven by the UAE's experienced Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum. This car will also run with additional support from the SBK Group. The Bahrain event will be run from the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir and and takes place on February 23rd-25th.

UAE-based Al-Qassimi took his first ever outright rally win in the coveted regional series in Bahrain last year and went on to win the Syrian International Rally and the overall championship at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRX STi. The cars were both built by Prodrive in England and run on Pirelli tyres under the on-event team management of Australia's Ron Cremen.

Sheikh Khalid and co-driver Michael Orr currently hold second position in this year's championship, after finishing as runners-up to Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Ulsterman Chris Patterson in the opening round of the series in Al-Ain at the start of this month. Al-Attiyah is now seen as the Power Horse star's closest rival and Al-Qassimi will need to be on top form in Bahrain to beat his fellow Subaru driver. He trails the Qatari by a mere two points after round one.

In addition to supporting the exploits of Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum in Bahrain, the Power Horse energy drink will also sponsor the event, being organised by the Bahrain Motor Federation. Sheikh Suhail is a former winner of the Dubai International Rally and one of the fastest drivers ever to come from the Gulf region. He tackled select events last year and is planning to compete in as many rallies as possible this season, having missed the opening round in the UAE.

But Al-Qassimi is not getting carried away with his chances of success on this occasion. ~Winning last year is not that important for the confidence,~ said Sheikh Khalid. ~We know we are capable of winning every rally, but Nasser will be pushing hard and it won't be easy. Our cars are evenly matched, so it's down to which driver takes the most risks and has the best luck.

~Last year the stages in Bahrain were graded which meant they weren't as open as the typical desert stages. You get severly punished for going off line with big rocks at the sides of the road. It tends to reward the driver who uses his head a little more and stays out of trouble.~

While Al-Qassimi knows that an all-out attack could reap rewards in Bahrain, he and team mate Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum will have one eye on reaching the finish. ~Last year we adopted a strategy of looking after the car and making sure we stayed on the track,~ added co-driver Orr. ~It wasn't always the fastest way, but we knew that if we could have a clean rally and get to the end then the win would be ours and that's how it worked out. Depending on the nature of this year's stages I see no reason why a similar strategy won't work.~

The Bahrain Rally is one of the most popular rounds of the regional series and returned to the FIA calendar in 2000 after a long absence. The event takes place over twisty and technical gravel stages to the south of Manama and this year's event will also use the facilities at the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir. No less than 19 drivers had registered for the championship prior to the opening round and the cut-off point for registering for the remaining rounds of the 2005 season will be next Tuesday (February 22nd).

~Bahrain is obviously a very tough rally, but one which we, as the Power Horse World Rally Team, won last year,~ said Angela Colley, Corporate Affairs Manager for Power Horse Middle East. ~We are hoping for the same result this year. Once again we are co-sponsors of this event and we are all looking forward to an exciting and safe couple of days.~

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile + 44 7831 123153 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
and
Atala Abousaleh, Arabic Press Officer, Mobile: + 971 50 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 19/02/2005

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