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MERC Qatar Rally organisers lay on challenging desert route

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

For immediate release
Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

QATAR RALLY ORGANISERS LAY ON CHALLENGING
DESERT ROUTE FOR FIA MIDDLE EAST EVENT

QMMF announces three new special stages for Qatar Rally;
Teams recce desert tracks before Thursday's official start

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has laid on a challenging route for this weekend's Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally, round four of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which gets underway with a ceremonial start at the Qatar National Museum at 20.00 hrs on Thursday evening.

The largest entry of the Middle East Championship season so far - 36 cars - will face five timed gravel special stages, repeated twice, in the deserts around Doha. Of those varied desert tracks, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation have laid on three totally new stages, one section which has been used before and one special which has been modified by around 70%.

~We have tried to lay on a new, challenging route to test both our local and international competitors,~ said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation. ~There will be three new stages at Umm Sial, Abuthayla and Jeri Masad, a modified special at Al Waab and we will again use the popular Tinbak stage.~

The QMMF have done away with the customary 'super special' stage, preferring to get proceedings underway with a festive ceremony in Doha. Scrutineering and documentation takes place at the Losail circuit on Thursday morning and early afternoon, but teams will not turn a competitive wheel until 09.08 hrs on Friday.

The defending FIA Middle East Rally Champion Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi will lead the entry into the 12.76 kms Umm Sial stage in his Power Horse-supported Subaru Impreza WRX STi. This tricky opener will be followed by a punishing run through the 32 kms Al Waab stage at 09.26 hrs, before a return to service at Losail.

Prior to the midday regrouping at Losail, teams will tackle a third 26.44kms Abuthayla stage at 10.29 hrs. The three stages will be repeated on Friday afternoon and then there will be a final service at Losail, before cars return to an overnight parc ferme area at the QMMF, near the Ramada Hotel, in Doha.

The second leg of the Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally takes place on Saturday, gets underway at 08.30 hrs and offers a mere four special stages. But the organisers have promised a sting in the tail, with two runs through the 20.59 kms Tinbak stage and the new 36.20 kms Jeri Masad test. There will be a final service at Losail from 14.00 hrs and the podium is planned at Qatar's state-of-the-art Moto GP facility at 14.30 hrs.

Teams spent Tuesday and Wednesday this week making detailed notes about the route and making sure that they were fully prepared for the challenges ahead. The organisers permitted reconnaisance of Friday's stages on Tuesday and Saturday's leg two stages today (Wednesday).

~We have had a good look at the stages and they are quite technical,~ said Jordan's Faris Bustami, who arrived in Qatar fresh from winning the Jordan National First Rally. ~They are twisty and have also been graded, which means we will run less risks of collecting a puncture.~

~The recce period is the only opportunity we have to look at the route in detail before the start,~ said the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi. ~My co-driver Michael (Orr) and I take at least four or five passes through the stages to make sure that we don't miss a crucial corner, a large rock or a hole which could be disastrous at rally speeds. Qatar has a reputation for being hard on tyres, but the stages have been graded and this reduces the risk of car damage and technical problems.~

Leading cars will start the stages at two-minute intervals and the Qatar organisers have implemented a recent FIA World Council ruling, which will permit teams to restart the second leg of the event if they have retired during the opening day in a new Super Rally format.

~This is an important way to ensure that we have a full entry of cars on the second day as well as the first and increases the interest factor among spectators and competitors alike,~ said FIA spokesman Derek Ledger.

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2005 Mitsubishi Qatar International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, The Media Centre, Losail Circuit, State of Qatar, Tel: + 974 472 8675, Fax: + 974 4728613, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

www.qmmf.com

Date issued: 13/04/2005

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