MERC Jordanian and Lebanese teams bolster Qatar entry

2008 Qatar International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 1

For immediate release
Thursday, January 17th, 2008





Veteran Michel Saleh and Jordanian Amjad Farrah top entry from Levant

Egyptian driver graces Qatar International Rally entry list for first time

DOHA (Qatar): Lebanese rally veteran Michel Saleh and Jordan’s top rally driver Amjad Farrah lead a contingent of six drivers from the Levant into next weekend’s 30-strong field for the Qatar International Rally, round one of the 2008 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.


Saleh has been a regular on the regional rallying scene since the first of the Gulf Rally Championships in the early 1980s and is planning to contest all rounds of the series this season in his Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Over the last 25 years has competed against some of the finest names ever to grace the special stages in the deserts of the Middle East, including Saeed Al-Hajri, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Abdullah Bakhashab, Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Suhail Khalifa.


Farrah finished third overall in the 2007 FIA Middle East Rally Championship behind Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and is keen to become the first Jordanian driver ever to win the regional title. The Jordanian and Italian co-driver Nicola Arena will use a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX this season in their quest for the title. Farrah is also keen to add to the solitary MERC rally win that he dramatically clinched in Jordan in May 2004.


“I made my first start in the P-WRC section of the FIA World Rally Championship last year and feel that I have learned a lot from that experience,” said Farrah. “The goal this year is to improve on third place in the Middle East Championship and it is important that we get the year off to a good start in Qatar.”


The two-day Qatar International Rally gets underway on Friday, January 25th and is being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) under the presidency of Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah.


Also representing Lebanon will be the experienced co-drivers Gaby Khoury and Joseph Mattar, with Khoury sitting alongside Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi and Mattar teaming up with the UK-based Lebanese driver Nicolai Georgiou, who showed promise on the select rounds of the championship that he tackled in 2007.


Bolstering the Jordanian quest for success in the Qatar desert is the multiple Jordanian national champion Faris Bustami and co-driver Burhan Abu Quora in a Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Bustami’s results have improved over recent seasons and he is relishing the prospect of competing in Qatar this year. Mazen Tantash and Ata Al Hmoud wheel out a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9 for the Hashemite Kingdom and are joined on the provisional entry list by Ammar Hijazi and Faris Hijazi and co-driver Imad Juma in similar specification Mitsubishis.


An Egyptian entrant also graces the entry for the Qatar International Rally for the first time. Hassan Ali Abdul Basit will take part in the all-desert event at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII.


Completing the non-GCC contingent for the opening round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship are the Cypriot crew of Terezopolous Omeros and Yiannis Ioannou at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII and the British chemist David Scialom and co-driver Thomas Mattias in an older specification Mitsubishi.


“We have a good turn out from Qatar and the rest of the GCC and I am pleased to see drivers from other parts of the Middle East and Europe keen to take part in this rally,” said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah. “It proves that we have strength in depth in this championship and it has a promising future.”


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: info@qmmf.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
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)





Date issued: 17/01/2008

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