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MERC Khalid Al Qassimi confirms emphatic win in Dubai Rally

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

For immediate release
Friday, December 2nd, 2005

UAE'S AL-QASSIMI PRODUCES FAULTLESS
DRIVE TO TAKE SUPERB WIN IN DUBAI RALLY

Second place for Jordan's Faris Bustami;
Middle East1600 title for Kuwait's Al-Nejadi

DUBAI (UAE): The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and British co-driver Nicky Beech completed one of the most one-sided victories in the history of the Dubai International Rally, when they steered their Subaru Impreza WRX STi to an emphatic 14m 54s triumph, today (Friday).

The event was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Department, and featured 13 timed special stages over two days. Second place eventually fell to Jordan's Faris Bustami and Imad Juma'a and the UAE driver Yahya Al-Amri and British co-driver Craig Parry were third overall. Kuwait's Mufeed Mubarak was fourth and did enough to clinch a similar position in the FIA Driver's Championship.

Al-Qassimi began the final day with a 6m 23s lead over his nearest rival Michel Saleh. It meant that he could lose one minute per stage and still win the rally, but the 2004 FIA regional champion was taking everything in his stride. ~I had no plans to think about glory or the podium, just to concentrate on driving fast and not making a mistake.~

~I had a strategy to beat Nasser on Thursday and I think that was the start of a fantastic weekend for me,~ said Al-Qassimi. ~Today I just tried to focus on taking it carefully, but keeping on a pace which was consistent. I needed to keep my lines tidy and not risk collecting punctures.

~I had one flat tyre and made some adjustments to the suspension, but nothing serious. I have a great feeling, almost like winning the championship. It is fantastic for me to follow Mohammed (Ben Sulayem) as a winner of the Dubai Rally and this makes up for all the bad luck we had earlier in the season.~

Of the 28 cars that left the start on Thursday morning, a mere 12 completed all of the opening day's stages and another nine restarted on Friday under the new SupeRally ruling. The fascinating battle over the closing stages should have been between Saleh and Bustami for second place.

The Lebanese driver began the day 37 seconds ahead of the Jordanian, but both drivers had planned a full attack over two loops of three gravel stages in the area around Hatta and Seih Madam. The contest was shortlived: Saleh wrecked his rear suspension in the Masout stage and Bustami - the four-times Jordan national champion - eased his pace to record his best ever finish in the UAE.

The Kuwaiti duo of Mufeed Mubarak and Meshari Al-Thafiri had begun the final morning in fifth and sixth places, after time penalties imposed on the UAE's Yahya Al-Amri were dropped and he moved back to fourth in his Subaru Impreza. Al-Thafiri crashed heavily into a large hole in the Masfout stage and was forced to retire with car damage, but Al-Amri persevered to hold off Mubarak until he lost time with mechanical problems in the 10th stage and slipped back. But he passed the Kuwaiti near the finish after a superb drive.

Jordan's Amjad Farrah had been second overall shortly after the start of the event and was the leading SupeRally runner in seventh at the start of the final day. He needed to earn a solitary point in Dubai to confirm outright fourth place in the Driver's Championship and began a charge through the field on Friday.

Several top times lifted him into contention for the podium and the Jordanian was closing in on second place when he was forced out of the rally in the 11th stage with a broken engine.

Britain's David Scialom and Simon Nutter were closely matched for much of the event in fifth and eighth places and Syrian Bashar Abu Khoura was fifth overall. The UAE's Sadiq Fadhel and a resurgent Bahraini Hassan Al-Sadadi were sixth and seventh and Austrian Andreas Wimmer recovered from first day navigational problems on the sandy stages around Jebel Ali to finish 10th in his Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza.

The two-way fight for the FIA 1600 Cup between Kuwait's Meshal Al-Nejadi and Shaker Al-Raeis ended in favour of the former champion Al-Nejadi. Both drivers could have restarted on Friday morning under the SupeRally ruling, with Al-Nejadi already having a six-point advantage in the championship. He only needed to reach the finish to claim the 1600 or two-wheel drive championship title, but that became immaterial when Al-Raeis failed to leave parc ferme.

The UAE's Ron Oakeley and co-driver Jamie Turner were involved in a high-speed crash on the last stage of the opening leg and Turner was taken to hospital for observation after sustaining a minor head injury. He was later released, but Oakeley's challenge for honours in his new Outox-backed car was over. Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah, the UAE's Chris Cargill and Jordan's Mohammed Juma were also unable to restart with terminal car damage.

The Dubai International Rally attracted 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.

Next year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship gets underway with the ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally in Al-Ain on January 25th-27th.

Positions after SS13:
1. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Nicky Beech (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec-C 2h 25m 46s
2. Faris Bustami (HKJ)/Imad Juma'a (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 2h 40m 40s
3. Yahya Al-Amri (UAE)/Craig Parry (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2h 41m 57s
4. Mufeed Mubarak (KWT)/Saad Al-Melaifi (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 2h 43m 19s
5. David Scialom (GB)/Andy Tatham (GB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 5 2h 52m 24s
6. Sadiq Fadhel (UAE)/Imad Nabhan (UAE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 2h 54m 26s
7. Hassan Al-Sadadi (BAH)/Keith Wake (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX 2h 54m 59s
8. Simon Nutter (GB)/Sean Kukula (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2h 55m 52s
9. Abdullah Al-Marri (KSA)/Hamoud Al-Jabry (OM) Subaru Impreza WRX 2h 58m 22s
10. Andreas Wimmer (A)/Michael Kolbach (D) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 02m 24s

FIA Middle East Drivers' Championship
positions after round 8 of 8:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 70 pts*
2. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 48 pts
3. Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum (UAE) 28 pts
4. Mufeed Mubarak (KWT) 17 pts
5. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA) 14 pts
5. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 14 pts
5. Amjad Farrah (HKJ) 14 pts
8. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QA) 13 pts
9. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY) 12 pts
10. Faris Bustami (HKJ) 11 pts
* denotes champion
(includes drivers who have not completed full quota of rallies)

FIA Middle East Co-Drivers' Championship
positions after round 8 of 8:
1. Chris Patterson (GB) 70 pts*
2. Ahmed Al-Ghaziri (RL) 24 pts
3. Michael Orr (GB) 22 pts
4. Steve Lancaster (GB) 17 pts
4. Khaled Zakaria (HKJ) 17 pts
6. Killian Duffy (IRL) 15 pts
7. Rashid Al-Sulaiti (QA) 14 pts, etc
* denotes champion

Manufacturers
1. Subaru 80 pts*
2. Mitsubishi 64 pts
* denotes champions

1600
1. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) 50 pts*
2. Shaker Al-Raies (KWT) 34 pts
* denotes champion

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Media Centre, Salsabeel Room, Lower Ground Floor, Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai, UAE, Tel: + 971 50 6459647, Fax: + 971 4 7054182, Dubai mobile + (971 50) 3616881 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

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

www.dubairally.com

Date issued: 02/12/2005

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