MERC Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah takes super special stage win in Oman
2020 Oman International Rally
2020 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1
February 6th-8th, 2020
For immediate release
Thursday, February 6th, 2020
QATAR’S NASSER SALEH AL-ATTIYAH TAKES SUPER SPECIAL STAGE WIN IN OMAN
MUSCAT (Oman): Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel cruised to the fastest time of 3min 25.6sec on the opening 3.55km super special stage of the Oman International Rally, round one of the 2020 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), on Thursday afternoon.
After the ceremonial start at the Oman Automobile Association, teams tackled the first FIA stage in Oman for five years before the action switches to the famous sinuous gravel trails in the Al-Hajar mountains on Friday and Saturday.
Al-Attiyah guided his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 to an overnight lead of 5.9 seconds with Oman’s Abdullah Al-Ruwahi, partnered by Jordanian navigator Ata Al-Hmoud, getting to grips with his Ford Fiesta R5 for the first time to snatch second place.
Al-Attiyah said: “The super special is short but I like the stages in Oman. I say thanks to the organisers for hosting this special stage. We have a long two days ahead. Let’s see how we do and how we can end the rally.”
Al-Ruwahi added: “This was a fast stage and I enjoyed it. But the most important thing is tomorrow. We have six stages and we have a different strategy for these stages. Hopefully we can finish the rally and get a good result.”
Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri continued his recent domination of the MERC 2 category into a new season with the third fastest time and the lead in the showroom section in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. He and Irish co-driver Derek O’Brien finished the stage 10.9 seconds ahead of Oman’s Zakariya Al-Ofi, who was second in MERC 2 and fifth overall, behind fourth-placed Qatari Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini.
Al-Thefiri said: “The stage was good and quite exciting. We are in Group N and I wil try to fo my best and be as fast as possible. The stages are a little bit difficult and we have to be fast enough to win them.”
The Lebanese duo of Henry Kahy and Rony Maroun began the driver’s defence of his ERC 3 title in solid style by holding the two-wheel drive advantage in their Škoda Fabia. Kuwait’s Jassim Al-Muqahwi brought up the rear of the international field after incurring a jump-start penalty.
Zakariya Al-Amri claimed the fastest time in the National Rally that ran before the FIA protagonists took to the stage. The Omani guided his Subaru Impreza STi to a time of 3min 57sec to take a lead of 8.7 seconds over Ghaith Al-Qassimi into the night halt.
After official scrutineering, 11 started the FIA event and seven were permitted to take part in the National Rally.
Teams face two loops of three special stages on Friday (February 7th), starting with the first pass through the 19.20km of Al-Misfah at 09.59hrs. The 16.1 km of Saal follows at 10.32hrs and precedes Madinat Al-Irfan (11.6km) from 11.20hrs. The stages are then repeated in the afternoon.
2020 Oman International Rally – positions after SS1:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 3min 25.6sec
2. Abdullah Al-Ruwahi (OMN)/Ata Hmoud (JOR) Ford Fiesta R5 3min 31.5sec
3. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Derek O’Brien (IRL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 3min 35.0sec
4. Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta R5 3min 42.4sec
5. Zakariya Al-Ofi (OMN)/Ammar Al-Balooshi (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3min 45.9sec
6. Jarah Al-Tauqi (OMN)/Issa Al-Wardi (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 3min 48.7sec
7. Khalid Al-Manji (OMN)/Rony Bou Abdo (LEB) Subaru Impreza STi 3min 54.1sec
8. Abdullah Al-Zubair (OMN)/Emad Juma (JOR) Subaru Impreza STi 3min 54.2sec
9. Faisal Al-Rashdi (OMN)/Waleed Al-Rashdi (OMN) Subaru Impreza STi 3min 59.7sec
10. Henry Kahy (LEB)/Rony Maroun (LEB) Škoda Fabia 4min 05.8sec
11. Jassim Al-Muqahwi (KWT)/Thamer Al-Mutairi (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 4min 10.6sec
2020 Oman National Rally – positions after SS1:
1. Zakariya Al-Amri (OMN)/Abdullah Al-Amri (OMN) Subaru Impreza STi 3min 57.0sec
2. Ghaith Al-Qassimi (OMN)/Mohammed Al-Amri (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI 4min 05.7sec
3. Hamid Al-Qasim (OMN)/Ahmed Al-Sadi (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Vi 4min 08.2sec
4. Waheed Al-Kharusi (OMN)/Wadi Al-Kharusi (OMN) Toyota Yaris 4min 09.8sec
5. Haitham Al-Zadjali (OMN)/Sana Al-Shakaili (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 4min 10.8sec
6. Yaqhdan Al-Rashdi (OMN)/Saif Al-Hinai (OMN) Toyota Yaris 4min 13.1sec
7. Mohammed Al-Mazrui (OMN)/Wail Al-Shaibani (OMN) Toyota Yaris 4min 20.6sec
Follow the rally live –
For further media information:
Neil Perkins, Oman International Rally, International Media Officer, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com. Facebook group: MERC