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MERC Al Qassimi looks to upset Al Attiyah in Qatar Rally

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

For immediate release
Saturday, April 9th, 2005

UAE'S AL-QASSIMI LOOKS TO UPSET
AL-ATTIYAH'S RUN OF FORM IN QATAR

Defending Middle East champion Al-Qassimi determined to succeed in Doha;
Power Horse-supported star set to rekindle partnership with co-driver Orr

DOHA (Qatar): The defending FIA Middle East Rally Champion Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi is busy putting the final preparations to his challenge for honours in next weekend's Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally, round four of this year's nine-event regional rally series. The three-day rally kicks off with a ceremonial start at the Qatar National Museum in Doha at 20.00 hrs on Thursday, April 14th.

At the wheel of his Power Horse-supported Subaru Impreza WRX STi, the UAE driver will rekindle his working relationship with usual Ulster co-driver Michael Orr, with whom he clinched the regional title in emphatic style in Dubai last December. Orr was forced to skip the previous event in Oman, because of prior commitments at the Leon-based Rally of Mexico.

Al-Qassimi will line-up at the start of the all-gravel special stage event in Qatar - which rejoined the Middle East rally series this year after a 12-month absence - trailing his arch rival and 2003 regional champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah by six points. Al-Attiyah has taken outright victories in Al-Ain, Bahrain and Oman this year, but Al-Qassimi's consistent performances have netted him three second places in the Power Horse Subaru.

In Orr's absence, Al-Qassimi teamed up with Welshman Craig Parry in Oman, but is keen to see the return of his usual co-driver, who will arrive in Doha along with Al-Attiyah's team direct from taking part in the Rally of New Zealand.

~Craig did a great job for our team at very short notice,~ said Sheikh Khalid. ~But it took us a little time to adapt to each other. Michael and I have a great rapport in the car and we will need every bit of that and a stroke of good fortune if we are going to beat Nasser on his home rally. We are six points behind, but there are definitely no alarm bells ringing at tis stage. We have to be happy with the consistent start we have made to the season, which gives us a firm base to start working from in Qatar.~

The Qatar Rally is renowned for its rough, rocky terrain and there is a greater risk of cars sustaining flat tyres than on any other round of the regional championship. But Al-Qassimi and Orr are looking forward to the challenge. ~Neither of us have been to Qatar for the rally before,~ added Al-Qassimi. ~So we have no experience of the roads there. Nasser will know the roads very well, so we will have no option but to attack
from the start.~

In addition to a fierce challenge from last year's winner Al-Attiyah - who has won the last five rounds of the regional series - Al-Qassimi faces competition from a resurgent Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum in his Subaru Impreza WRX STi, which is also run by Australian team manager Ron Cremen.

~I think it is realistic that we can beat Nasser and Suhail,~ said Orr. ~Although Qatar is Nasser's home rally we will be doing everything we can to ensure he does not stretch his lead in the championship. Nasser will be arriving in Qatar straight from a long trip from Auckland. I will be in the same position, but when the starting flag drops you soon forget about the jet lag. If anything, Nasser will arrive from New Zealand with more great driving experience under his belt, so we will have more to do.~

Orr admits that he is looking forward to rejoining Al-Qassimi in the Power Horse-supported car. ~It was unfortunate that I had to miss Oman, but it simply wasn't possible to get back from Mexico on time. This time I'm able to get back from New Zealand just in time to start the recce. It takes a little time to build a full working
relationship in a rally car. It's never easy for somebody to jump in for a first time. But we're both looking forward to being back together again and giving it everything we've got.~

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 Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

Date issued: 09/04/2005

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