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Syria Rally to feature live television broadcasts

Syria International Rally
2003 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4 of 6

For immediate release Friday, September 5th, 2003

SYRIA RALLY TO FEATURE LIVE TELEVISION BROADCASTS

All-desert event attracts record entry; 10 Syria competitors

DAMASCUS (Syria): The Syria International Rally, round four of this year's six-event FIA Middle East Rally Championship, starts next Thursday (September 11th) and is set to be the largest rally in the event's four-year history.

Syroco, the organising committee, is delighted to announce that at least 35 cars will take the start in Damascus and tackle a wide variety of desert stages in the two-day route between Damascus and the Roman city of Palmyra to the east.

The event will also feature a Super Special stage for the first time and this short competitive section will be filmed and broadcast live on both Syrian television and the Lebanese LBC satellite network.

~This is a major development for us,~ said Ammar Marouf Amourshed of the organising committee. ~The stage will start at the beginning of the Al-Sabboura hill road and is easily accessible for spectators. It will be run on two occasions at the start and at the end of the rally~

The event has attracted a record 10 Syrian entrants. Last year's rally attracted a mere two starters from the Syrian Arab Republic, but motorsport continues to grow in popularity in the region and Syrian drivers have been tackling other rounds of the regional series this season.

The second 27.1 kms Dhmeir section is a totally new stage and starts at Oteibe. It crosses stunning desert terrain and is regarded as one of the most scenic areas in the region. The now renowned third stage passes historic crusader forts and includes a stunning run through a narrow rock cutting.

This 12.85 kms section is the most famous special stage in Syria and is now known as 'The Rock'. At one point the cutting is just wide enough for a rally car to pass at slow speed.

The fourth 25.15 kms Rowan stage is another new development this year and takes place in the deserts around the Baghdad Cafe, the location for the service park on the Syria-Iraq highway.

A gruelling 41.83 kms section constitutes the fifth stage near the Baghdad crossroads and the final desert stage of the rally is the 36.45 kms section, near Palmyra, which passes the Senoia desert camp and the Zenobia desert crossing.

All but one of these stages are repeated on both Thursday and Friday. Teams will spend Thursday night in Palmyra and the event is scheduled to end in Damascus outside the Cham Palace Hotel at 18.30 on Friday afternoon.

Powerful World Rally Cars, Group N and Super 1600 cars are eligible to enter this FIA-sanctioned event and the UAE's Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi has a slender lead in the Group N or showroom section after taking a pair of wins in Lebanon and Jordan.

Al-Qassimi faces competition from Qatar's Misfer Al-Marri, Abdullah Al-Kuwari, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Hamed Al-Sowaidi, in addition to rivals from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Cyprus and Lebanon.

Ends

For further media information: Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, (Tel: + 44 1952 825078 and Fax: + 44 1952 825001), E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com www.ndp-publicity.com

Date issued: 05/09/2003

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