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MERC Al Attiyah faces Qatar Rally challenge after New Zealand trip

2005 Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4 of 9

For immediate release
Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

QATAR'S AL-ATTIYAH FACES QATAR RALLY
CHALLENGE AFTER NEW ZEALAND WRC TRIP

Former Middle East champion heads 'down under';
WRC preparation for Qatar Rally showdown

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will begin his preparations for the defence of his Qatar Rally title by setting off to Auckland in New Zealand to take part in the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship this week.

The 2003 FIA Middle East Rally Champion took part in rounds of last year's FIA Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) at the wheel of his Autotek Motorsport-run Subaru Impreza and set some impressive stage times in Argentina and Mexico.

This year he has entered the series again with Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson and will kick-start his PWRC challenge along the twisty forest roads of New Zealand's volcanic North Island. The event takes place between April 8th-10th.

With support from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and Qatar Petroleum, Al-Attiyah faces competition from some of the world's most talented up and coming drivers, keen to make that final step into a fully-fledged factory rally team. One of those challengers will be Oman's Hamed Al-Wahaibi, whom Al-Attiyah competed against in Muscat two weeks ago. The pair were closely matched before Al-Wahaibi was forced into retirement with broken suspension and Al-Attiyah went on to extend his series to six points.

Last year's championship was won by Ulsterman Niall McShea and co-driver Michael Orr. Orr is also the defending Middle East Championship co-driver and is keen to retain the title this year with the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi in a Power Horse-supported Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

While Al-Attiyah and his Autotek team head off to New Zealand for the WRC encounter, members of the organising committee of the Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally are piecing together the final plans for next weekend's fourth round of the regional rally series. The event kicks off with a ceremonial start at the Qatar National Museum in Doha at 20.00 hrs on Thursday, April 14th.

Al-Attiyah and his entire team, under the management of Britain's Ken Skidmore, face a race against time to complete their preparations for the Mitsubishi Qatar Rally. The team's logistics department has worked overtime to source flights and connections to enable the Qatar Rally Team to leave Auckland and arrive in Doha on the morning of Tuesday, April 12th, in time for Al-Attiyah and Patterson to complete a two-day recce of the gravel special stages in Qatar.

~We ran a successful candidate rally for inclusion in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship last year,~ said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation. ~It was well received by the sport's governing body and we are confident that we can build on that success in a couple of weeks and run one of the strongest and most popular rounds of the regional series.~

For further information about the 2005 Qatar International Rally, contact the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 4379884, Fax: + 974 4379761 and Email: info@qmmf.com.

Website: www.qmmf.com

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2005 Qatar 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, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

Date issued: 30/03/2005

For further information or assistance please contact:

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