MERC Entries flood in for UAE International Rally

2006 ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1 of 8

For immediate release
Wednesday, December 28th, 2005


UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi aims to build upon Dubai success

ABU DHABI (UAE): Entries are flooding in for the 2006 ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally, which takes place on January 25th-27th. The event is being held under the patronage of His Highness Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Minister of Interior.

The two-day rally is the opening round of the 2006 FIA Middle East Rally Championship and is being organised in Al-Ain for the second time by the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates. Among the first drivers to notify officials of his intention to compete is the 2004 FIA regional champion Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi. The UAE driver will use a Ron Cremen-run Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec-C for a third successive season.

Al-Qassimi will team up with his new co-driver Nicky Beech for a fourth time, as he bids to build upon the terrific victory the pair earned in Dubai less than one month ago. Sheikh Khalid finished second overall in the 2005 championship, behind Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, who is currently in Lisbon preparing for the start of the 2006 Dakar Rally on New Year's Eve.

One of the first entries received by event officials came from the Kuwaiti 1600 driver Essam Al-Nejadi in his two-wheel drive Proton Wira. Al-Nejadi and his brother Meshal have been regular competitors in the region and Meshal clinched the 1600 title in Dubai earlier this month.

The first international entrant was Britain's David Scialom and co-driver Andy Tatham. David has been a regular in the regional championship for the last three seasons and will tackle the all-desert rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 5. He finished sixth overall in Qatar in 2004, seventh in Oman and then took a fine fifth place in Dubai recently.

~We are expecting between 30 and 40 drivers to take part in the rally on the final entry list,~ said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Chairman of the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates. ~We are delighted with the names we have received so far. It looks as though the 2006 Middle East series will be the most competitive in the history of the championship. Last year was a very exciting season and brought back many memories from the time when I was competing in the series on a regular basis.~

Additional support for the 2006 ADNOC Distribution UAE International Rally comes from Finance House, the Abu Dhabi Travel Bureau, Sky Electronic Line, AMD for computers, Gulf Commercial Group for photocopiers, Emirates Computers for Nokia telephones and GTS Towing Services .

For further information on entries and concessions for foreign and non Gulf-based teams, please contact the ATC of the UAE, P.O.Box 27487, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tel: + (971 2) 6212175, Fax: + (971 2) 6321593, E-mail: atcuae@emirates.net.ae www.atcuae.org


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, UAE International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, NCH Building, Upper Bar, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 7EH, United Kingdom, Tel: + 44 1952 825078, Fax: + 44 1952 825001, UK mobile + 44 7831 123153 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
Atala Abusaleh, UAE International Rally, Arabic Press Officer, Mobile: + 971 50 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 28/12/2005

For further information or assistance please contact:

NDP Publicity Services
Holly House, Station Road, Newport,
Shropshire TF10 7EN United Kingdom

Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1952 825001
Mobile: + 44 (0) 7831 123153 (UK)

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