MERC GCC teams support Qatar International Rally
2008 Qatar International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1
For immediate release
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
GCC DRIVERS SUPPORT OPENING ROUND
OF REGIONAL RALLY SERIES IN QATAR
Teams from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and UAE bolster top class entry
DOHA (Qatar): Rally drivers from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates will join a nine-strong field of Qatari drivers and additional teams from Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Egypt and the United Kingdom in next week’s Qatar International Rally, round one of the 2008 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
The event is being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) under the presidency of Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah and takes place on January 25th-26th over an all-desert route to the north of Doha.
The sole representative from the United Arab Emirates is the former regional Group N rally champion Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi and his Lebanese co-driver Gaby Khoury. Sharjah-based Al-Qassimi has been a regular on the rally scene for many years and looks set to lock horns with the powerful Qatari contingent next weekend when he wheels out his Subaru Impreza WRX STi. His brother Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi is concentrating on a WRC programme of 10 events with the Ford team this season and will not take part in the regional rally championship.
Kuwait will be represented by no less than seven rally entrants, as Kuwaiti teams and officials prepare for a new FIA candidate event that will take place at the end of February in Kuwait. Several of the Kuwaiti names have been familiar faces on the regional rally circuit over the years with Mufeef Mubarak and Saad Al-Melaifi topping the starters in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8.
Meshari Al-Thafiri, Essam Al-Nejadi and Saleh Bin Eidan also wheel out a trio of competitive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions and they are joined on the entry list by newcomer Meshari Al-Sabti in a similar car, Shaker Al-Raies in a little Citroen Saxo and Hassan Youroudi and co-driver Dana Assaf in a sixth Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host the opening round of the FIA International Cup for Bajas in mid-February and no less than three Saudi drivers grace the 30-strong field in Qatar. The talented Yazeed Al-Rahji leads the way with British co-driver Steve Lancaster in a 2007 specification Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Al-Rahji proved last year that he was a promising career in international rallying ahead of him and he is joined by former Toyota driver Majed Ghamdy and the experienced Ahmed Al-Sabban, who looks set to wheel out a Toyota Corolla in the A6 class.
Former regional Group N champion Nizar Al-Shanfari tackles select events in the championship and he is the sole representative from the Sultanate of Oman. Nizar wheels out the latest specification Subaru Impreza WRX STi, as he bids to win the Qatar International Rally for a second time.
“We are delighted to welcome such a strong field of drivers from the rest of the GCC,” admitted Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah. “Kuwait has shown a great interest in the championship and we wish them every success with their new event in February. It is also pleasing to see drivers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman making the trip to our event and we wish them all well next week.”
The 2008 Qatar International Rally gets underway on Friday, January 25th at 08.30hrs and competitive action is expected to finish on Saturday afternoon (January 26th). There will be an official podium ceremony at the Losail circuit, north of Doha, from 14.30hrs.
For further information about the 2008 Qatar International Rally, contact the Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation, PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 437 9884/9885, Fax: + 974 437 9761, E-mail: email@example.com and website: www.qmmf.com
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2008 Qatar International Rally, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
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