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CC Sousa and Blazquez to decide FIA Baja Cup in Doha

NBK Group Qatar Baja 2005
FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 5

For immediate release
Sunday, October 30th, 2005

QATAR BAJA TO DECIDE OUTCOME OF
FIA INTERNATIONAL CUP FOR BAJAS

Spaniard Blazquez heads for showdown with Portugal's Sousa

DOHA (Qatar): The NBK Group Qatar Baja 2005 looks set to decide the outcome of the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, which is heading for an exciting climax after last weekend's Baja Anta Da Serra 500-Portalegre in Portugal.

The Middle East's only round of the prestigious off-road series will take place on November 23rd-26th and will be organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF). It looks likely that Spaniard Marc Blazquez will go head-to-head with Portugal's Rui Sousa to decide who will follow in the footsteps of last year's championship winner Carlos Sousa.

~This is the first time that we have hosted a round of the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, after running as a candidate event last year,~ said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the QMMF. ~It is great for us that the championship is still to be decided and that the drama will unfold in our deserts.~

Blazquez arrived in Portugal last week as favourite to clinch the title in his Nissan Motors Spain-supported Navara Pick-Up, but the Spaniard and co-driver Ignacio Salvador crashed out of the event around 20 kms after the first passage control of a rain-lashed second selective section, on a twisty and treacherously muddy section in eastern Portugal.

The incident left the door open for Portugal's Rui Sousa and co-driver Carlos Silva to take control of the championship but, in a dramatic turn of events, their Nissan was struck down by serious ignition problems and they incurred a total of 17 minutes in time penalties for exceeding their allotted service time. The delay dropped Sousa to a pointless 16th position in the overall standings and he heads to Doha at the end of November trailing Blazquez by seven points in the championship.

The breakaway FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas was established at the start of the 2004 season and was dominated last year by Mitsubishi's Carlos Sousa. He secured the championship on the final round in Portugal, where Scotland's Colin McRae drove a factory Nissan Pick-Up for the first time. This year Sousa is preparing to tackle the Dakar Rally again in a Team Dessoude Nissan Navara Pick-Up and finished 11th overall in last week's Baja Portalegre after several early problems.

Mitsubishi's Luc Alphand and team mate Joan Roma also have 15 points in this year's FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, after winning Baja events outright in Portugal and Spain respectively, but neither driver has committed to the series and will not make the trip to Doha at the end of November.

~I am looking forward to going to Qatar for the first time,~ insisted Blazquez. ~The desert will be a new challenge. I just have to stay ahead of Sousa and we can win the title.~

~We were not sure whether we had the budget to go to Doha,~ insisted Rui Sousa's co-driver Carlos Silva of the Ramalho Couto Fitagest Team. ~But it would be a shame not to go and try and win the championship.~

This year's NBK Qatar Baja will be based at the Movenpick Hotel in Doha. Scrutineering takes place on the Doha Corniche between 07.00 hrs and 10.00 hrs on Thursday, November 24th. The official start will be at 14.00 hrs on the Doha Corniche and will be followed by a timed Prologue stage at 14.30 hrs.

The opening two selective sections take place on Friday, November 25th, with teams heading out towards the Sealine area, south of Doha, to tackle a two-lap, 600 kms selective section across varied desert terrain in the south of the State of Qatar. The third selective section takes place on Saturday, November 26th.

Entries officially close on Wednesday, November 9th. For further information contact the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 4379752, Fax: + 974 4379761, E-mail: mohd.naeem@qmmf.com and info@qmmf.com.

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, NBK Group Qatar Baja 2005 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: 30/10/2005

For further information or assistance please contact:

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Shropshire TF10 7EN United Kingdom

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