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MERC Testing route format for Dubai Rally teams

2005 Dubai International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 8 of 8

For immediate release
Saturday, November 26th, 2005

TESTING ROUTE FORMAT
FOR DUBAI RALLY TEAMS

Thirteen challenging special stages for Dubai Rally;
UAE's Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi looks ahead to new challenge

DUBAI (UAE): The Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE has laid on a testing and varied route for the 33 teams who will take part in this weekend's Dubai international Rally, behind held on Thursday and Friday, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Department.

The event will decide the outcome of the FIA Super 1600 Championship and bring this year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship to a conclusion. Swedish Clerk of the Course Bengt Gustavsson has worked closely with rally officials in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to finalise a 657.01 kms route, featuring 13 timed special stages in the Margham, Jebel Ali and Hatta areas of the Dubai emirate.

The region's and the UAE's finest rally drivers, including Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, will face a total of 255.35 competitive kilometres over the two days and 401.66 kms of non-competitive road liaison sections.

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi is one of the region's top drivers from the UAE and a former multiple Group N champion. He is also looking forward to tackling the revised route: ~I have a good track record on this event and proved in Syria that we are still a competitive force in the Middle East,~ said Al-Qassimi. ~My team has worked hard on the car over recent weeks and I would like to repay them with a top result in the final rally of the year.~

~This year's route has been modified to make it more compact and challenging,~ said Gustavsson. ~There is so much construction and building work now taking place in Dubai that it is increasingly difficult to come up with new, competitive special stages close to the city. We needed to find stages which were suitable for two-wheel drive cars and also ones that provided a challenge for the top teams.~

After crossing the official start at the Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai at 09.30 hrs on Thursday morning, tems will head towards the opening 27 kms Margham stage, featuring loose gravel, sand, rocky surfaces and errant boulders which can easily damage a high-speed rally car. Teams will then head to the first service point, en route to three special stages at Ghantoot, Seih Sheib and Jebel Ali. These three tricky stages will be repeated in the afternoon after a service and regroup near Ghantoot.

Day two action is centred to the south of Dubai in the area around Madam and Hatta. Cars will restart at 08.00 hrs and head into the first service point, en route to three specials at Masfout, Seih Madam and Al-Rowdah.

These stages are rockier and rougher than those on the opening day and will offer a different test for the drivers to the higher speeds associated with specials around Jebel Ali. After a late morning regroup and service, the three-stage loop is repeated on Friday afternoon and the surviving cars will return to the Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel for the finishing celebrations and prizegiving from 15.00 hrs.

~We pride ourselves with running a slick and efficient rally and aim to make minor improvements each year,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheit, President of the Organising Committee. ~This year we have a wide variety of special stages and plenty of challenging terrain to test even the top drivers in the rally.~

The Dubai International Rally has further support from Emirates Petroleum Production Company (TASJEEL), the Rehab Rotana Hotel and Al-Jumeira Rotana Hotel, Gulf Commercial Group, Emirates Computers, Sky Electronics, AMD and GTS, the recovery and towing company.

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2005 Dubai International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Tel: Dubai mobile + (971 50) 3616881, UK mobile + 44 7831 123153 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

and

Atala Abousaleh, 2005 Dubai International Rally, Arabic Press Officer, Dubai mobile: + (971 50) 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 26/11/2005

For further information or assistance please contact:

NDP Publicity Services
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Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1952 825001
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