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MERC Bumper entry set to tackle Qatar International Rally

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

For immediate release
Tuesday, April 12th, 2005

BUMPER ENTRY SET TO TACKLE
QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Largest entry for many years in Doha-based event;
European contingent heads to Qatar for stage rally

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) is delighted to announced that the 2005 Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally, round four of this year's nine-event FIA Middle East Rally Championship, has attracted one of the strongest entries even seen in the Gulf region for a round of the regional rally series.

No less than 36 teams will tackle the three-day, gravel special stage rally, which kicks off on Thursday evening at 20.00 hrs with a ceremonial start at the Qatar National Museum in Doha. All the usual Middle East and GCC countries are represented on the entry list, but the event has also attracted entrants from Austria, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

~We are delighted that the event has attracted such a strong international interest and strength in numbers,~ enthused Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation.

~This year's FIA Middle East Championship is one of the most exciting on record and we hope that the Mitsubishi Qatar Rally will be one of the most popular with our competitors, both our international teams and local drivers.~

Heading the overseas contingent is the British driver David Scialom and his co-driver Andy Tatham in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. They are joined by the Austrian driver Andreas Wimmer and his German co-driver Michael Kolbech in a Subaru Impreza, the Italian duo of Agostino and Lorenzo Ontano in a Subaru Impreza and Switzerland-based Edith Weiss in her new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8.

UK-based author and heart surgeon Raj Jutley will also take part in the event at the wheel of his Opel Corsa GSI, partnered by Zaffar Mughal, who tackled the recent Rally Oman 2005 with the UAE's Ron Oakeley. Jutley will be eligible to score points in the Super 1600 category, which was won last season by Cypriot Nearchos Nearchou. Dubai-based American dentist Mike Ziegler completes the international line-up in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 with co-driver Robery Gainley.

This year the two-wheel drive category has been a successful hunting ground for Kuwaiti drivers, although no-one was classified at the finish of the UAE Rally in Al-Ain and Meshal Al-Nejadi's 20 points came courtesy of a pair of outright category victories in Bahrain and Oman at the wheel of his nimble Citroen Saxo. His brother Essam has retired his Proton Wira on each event this season, but Shakar Al-Raies trails Al-Nejadi by a mere four points after taking a pair of second places in Bahrain and Oman in a second Saxo.

~The deserts and the soft sand around Al-Ain did not suit a two-wheel drive car,~ admitted Meshal Al-Nejadi. ~But I took a couple of good results on the next two rallies and am confident that I can extend my championship lead in Qatar. The stages are rocky and hard on the car if you push too hard, so it's a matter of driving cautiously with a view to conserving the car.

Qatar's Nada Zaidan made her special stage debut on this event last year and has tackled and finished several events in the last 12 months. In Doha she teams up with the experienced British female co-driver Gemma Price, who has tackled numerous World Championship events and made her Middle East rallying debut in Bahrain with Edith Weiss in February.

Ends

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

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: 12/04/2005

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