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MERC David Stone

Obituary: David Stone

Motorsport in the Middle East suffered a huge loss last week with the untimely death of David Stone, an integral part of the motorsport scene in the region since the 1970s.

David, 50, was diagnosed with leukemia last summer and died suddenly last Thursday (March 22nd) in Guy's Hospital, London. He spent 15 years working in the Middle East in two stints, before returning to the UK with wife Denise to make his home at Swanley, Kent in 2000.

David first went to the Gulf region in the 1970s to work on the Dubai dry dock facility and later returned to Doha to manage the Qatar Motor Sports Club, which later became the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).

A keen sportsman and follower of Gillingham football club and, in the last two years, a keen ballroom dancer with his wife, David developed a passion for motorsport, particularly rallying, during his time in the Gulf.

A former chief organiser of the Qatar International Rally, the inaugural Qatar Baja Cube and deputy clerk of the course of the Bahrain International Rally, David also served as an FIA official on numerous FIA Cross-Country events and was the FIA Observer in the 2006 Rally of Morocco, shortly before he was taken ill.

He was introduced to his wife Denise by Middle East rally organiser Elie Semaan during the 1989 Pharaohs Rally in Egypt and the couple married two years later. A keen traveller, David was also a reputable co-driver and partnered the likes of Australia's Ron Cremen and Britain's Simon Nutter on FIA Middle East rallies.

~I will always remember the times he co-drove for me in Qatar and Jordan and the pre-Qatar Rally parties that went on into the small hours,~ admitted Cremen. ~David was a true sportsman and gentleman. I will always remember his hospitality and friendship.~

One of David's closest friends was former FIA Middle East Group N champion Ron Oakeley. ~David was fantastic for the sport in the Middle East,~ said Ron, who first met David in the 1970s.

~For the last 25 years he helped and encouraged many a future champion and laid down a lot of the groundwork in the early days of Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah's career in Doha and in the days of Saeed Al-Hajri. I am sure that Nasser would not be where he is now without David's support in those early years.~

David's sense of humour, knowledge of his working environment and his commonsense, no-nonsense approach to working in sometimes difficult conditions, will never be forgotten. He retained his enthusiasm for rallying throughout his illness and was e-mailing several people to give them his best wishes before the recent Rally Oman.

His passing is a bitter blow to everyone who had the pleasure to work with him. To his wife Denise, members of both the FIA Middle East Rally Championship and the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup communities send their deepest condolences.

Ends

Date issued: 26/03/2007

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