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MERC Bank Muscat Rally Oman organisers boosted by rush for entries

Bank Muscat Rally Oman 2006
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3 of 8

For immediate release
Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

BANK MUSCAT RALLY OMAN ORGANISERS
BOOSTED BY RUSH FOR EVENT ENTRIES

Oman’s Nizar Al-Shanfari set to lead strong local contingent;
Omani youngster Georgiou set to follow in father’s footsteps

MUSCAT (Oman): Oman-based Intevents announced at an official press conference in Muscat on Tuesday (today) that no less than 33 teams have already entered next month’s Bank Muscat Rally Oman, the third round of the 2006 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

The event is being organised by Intevents, under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism, with sporting elements handled by the Oman Automobile Association, the FIA and the Ministry of Sports Affairs. The event will be held on April 5th-7th with support from Gulf Air and Intercontinental Hotels.

“We are delighted at the response we have received from teams keen to take part in Oman’s most important motor sport event,~ admitted Colonel Salim bin Khalifa Al-Maskiry of the Oman Automobile Association. “Not only do we have all the regular championship contenders on the entry list, but we have several up and coming young drivers and a strong participation from Oman.”

Leading the strong contingent of entries from the Sultanate of Oman will be the former FIA Middle East Group N rally champion Nizar Al-Shanfari in his Bank Muscat Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Al-Shanfari tackled the opening two rounds of this year’s series in Al-Ain and Qatar with Britain’s Brian Hardie, who now resides in northern Cyprus. The events marked the Omani’s return to the sport after missing a couple of full seasons because of business commitments.

“I was looking forward to taking part in the championship again this season and have enjoyed the first two rallies,” said Al-Shanfari. “But the competition gets tougher every year. Many of the cars are closely matched in terms of performance and some of the top runners are really driving at a fast pace. The championship has become very competitive.”

Making his international rallying debut in Bank Muscat Rally Oman will be 23-year-old Nicholi Georgiou, the son of veteran rally driver Tony Georgiou, who was one of the most competitive drivers in the region back in the 1980s and early 1990s. Tony has ventured out of retirement to tackle several recent Oman rallies, but this event will mark the first time that his son takes to the driving seat.

Father and son combinations have achieved considerable success in recent seasons in international rallying. Both Colin and Alister McRae followed their father Jimmy - a multiple British Rally Champion - on to the special stages and, more recently, Matthew Wilson has earned a seat in a factory Ford in father Malcolm’s Ford World Rally Team. Nicholi is keen to make a name for himself in the sport and will take part in the Muscat-based event at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 with co-driver Njeim Nabil.

“He will use my old car and if he is interested then we may take it a stage further,” enthused Tony Georgiou. “This will be his first ever rally. We tested the car last week and he enjoyed the experience, so we are all looking forward to the rally now.”

Alongside international teams from the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Lebanon and several of the GCC countries, the Sultanate of Oman will also be represented by Oman Rally Team’s Khalid Soomar and Ali Al-Arfi in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 and Hamood Salim and Mohammed Al-Wardiy in a similar Tooq Rally Team car.

Also making an infrequent visit to a round of the regional rally series will be Khalid Saleh Al-Minji and Khalid Hamed Al-Minji in a Subaru Impreza WRX SRTi, Ibrahim Al-Abri and Yaqoob Al-Hadidi in a second Bank Muscat Rally Team Subaru and Suhaib Al-Barwani in a Nissan.

Further support for Bank Muscat Rally Oman 2006 comes from official communications partner Oman Mobile, leading energy drink producer Red Bull and Precision Tune Autocare.

For further information about Bank Muscat Rally Oman 2006, contact Jeremy Alston (Mobile + 968 99269783) and Niall Polley at INTeVENTS, PO Box 268, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman, Tel: + 968 24564325, Fax: + 968 24564327.
E-mail: niall.polley@intevents.com and jeremy.alston@intevents.com

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2006 Bank Muscat Rally Oman 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: 21/03/2006

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NDP Publicity Services
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Shropshire TF10 7EN United Kingdom

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