MERC Hamed Al Wahaibi enters Rally Oman 2005

Rally Oman 2005
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3 of 9

For immediate release
Tuesday, March 1st, 2005


New British co-driver for Subaru-mounted Al-Wahaibi;
Nizar Al-Shanfari vows to bounce back in style in Oman

MUSCAT (Oman): Oman's leading rally driver Hamed Al-Wahaibi has announced his decision to take part in Rally Oman 2005, the third round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, being organised by the Oman Automobile Association, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Intevents on March 16-18th. The event will be held under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism.

Wahaibi is one of the few Arab drivers to have made an impact on the world rallying stage and his decision to take part in the Muscat-based Rally Oman 2005 comes at a time when he is piecing together the final details for an ambitious programme of FIA Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) events this season.

Loyal to the Mitsubishi brand for several years, Al-Wahaibi is planning to debut a Prodrive-built Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the three-day Rally Oman, which gets underway with a timed super special stage near the Seeb International airport on Wednesday, March 16th.

Hamed's Subaru has been built to a 2004 Group N specification and is around 70 kgs heavier than the 2005 model and features an older-type turbocharger. The latest Subaru has already taken a pair of victories this year in Al-Ain and Bahrain in the hands of the 2003 regional champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. Al- Wahaibi plans to drive a 2005 Spec C model in rounds of the PWRC.

The Omani will team up with a new co-driver for the first time. Britain's David Senior has vast experience of the FIA World Rally Championship and took part in numerous international rallies with Alister McRae, the brother of 1995 WRC champion Colin McRae.

~David is a terrific co-driver and I feel that we have a strong team for this season,~ said Hamed. ~Last year was a disappointing one for me. I proved in Bahrain, Oman and Jordan that I was the fastest driver in the Middle East, but I suffered some cruel luck at crucial moments. This year, hopefully, will be my year, although I will not be registered to score championship points in the Oman Rally.~

Meanwhile, fellow countryman Nizar Al-Shanfari is still smarting after being forced out of last weekend's Bahrain International Rally by a cruel series of leg one mechanical problems. The former regional Group N champion has now failed to score a single point after two rounds of the Middle East rally series and knows the importance of sorting out is Mitsubishi's reliability before Rally Oman 2005.

~I know we have work to do, but I will be more determined than ever to take a top result on my home event,~ said Nizar. ~I missed the first rally in the UAE and now I have already dropped my two scores. It will be an uphill battle to catch Nasser and Khalid (Al-Qassimi), but there are still seven rallies to go.~

Shanfari and Cypriot co-driver Michael Michelakis will use their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution in Oman, although the Omani is contemplating the switch to a Subaru for other rounds of the series later in the season.

For further information about Rally Oman 2005, contact the Oman Automobile Association, Tel: + 968 24510630, Fax: + 968 24510276
or Jeremy Alston (Mobile + 968 9269783) and Azzan Sinani at INTeVENTS, PO Box 268, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman, Tel: + 968 24564325, Fax: + 968 24564327.
E-mail: nick.hodge@intevents.com and jeremy.alston@intevents.com

FIA Middle East Rally Championship
positions after round 2 of 9:

1. Subaru 20 pts
2. Mitsubishi 16 pts


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, Rally Oman 2005 International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, NCH Building, Upper Bar, Newport, Shropshire TF10 7EH, United Kingdom.
Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

Date issued: 01/03/2005

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