MERC Veteran Michel Saleh set to debut new Subaru in Kuwait Rally

KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, February 28th-March 1st 2008

FIA Middle East Rally Championship, official candidate event

For immediate release
Monday, February 11th, 2008




Former National Champion relishes Kuwait’s rallying return

KUWAIT CITY (Kuwait): Michel Saleh, the most experienced of all the Arab rally drivers, is set to debut his new Subaru Impreza WRX N14 in the 2008 Kuwait International Rally, an official FIA sanctioned candidate event for the 2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, between February 28th and March 1st


The event is being organised by the Kuwait Motor Sports Club (KMSC) and will run under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait.


Lebanon-born Saleh spent 26 years living in Kuwait when he first moved to the Gulf region from Beirut and classes the country as his ‘second home’. He competed in the very first autocross meeting in Kuwait in 1973 – 35 years ago - and took part in the first Kuwait International Rally in 1974.


Saleh has gone on to become one of the best known and respected names in the sport of rallying in the region and clinched the 1984 and 1985 Kuwait National Championship titles, winning the international rally along the way. He is currently competing in the Saudi Arabian Hail Baja in a powerful Land Rover 110.


He teams up with Lebanese co-driver Joseph Matar at the end of this month for Kuwait’s return to international motorsport for the first time since 1996 and for the first time since the new Kuwaiti National Sporting Authority (ASN) - under the presidency of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah – took over the running of motorsport events in Kuwait last year.


“We are delighted that Michel has agreed to support our return to the calendar,” said Sheikh Ahmad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah. “He is a great ambassador for the sport and will be trying to win the rally, that is for sure.”


Saleh’s new Subaru has been built by Prodrive in the UK and carries sponsorship from the UAE’s City of Arabia. The five-door N14 was given its world debut last month by a victorious Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in the Qatar International Rally and by Olivier Burri in the Monte Carlo Rally.


“I have known David Richards at Prodrive for many, many years, since the days when he was an organiser of rallies in Kuwait with Rothmans,” said Saleh. “I have many great memories of competing in Kuwait. The stages are smoother than other rallies in the region. There are no big rocks, no soft sand, just twisty corners and smooth firmer surfaces.


“I won the BP 4x4 Rally that was run around the time of the first Gulf War, but Kuwait has been missing from the Middle East championship for 12 years now and I am delighted to be supporting its return. I spent my early life here. It should be a very nice rally. I have a good chance of winning and that is always a good feeling.”


The event will be based at the Kuwait Shooting Club and gets underway with a timed super special stage at the Jaber Al Ahmad International Circuit on Thursday, February 28th.


Entries will close on Wednesday, February 13th. For  further information, please contact the Kuwait Motor Sport Club, PO Box 29, Salmiya, 22001 Kuwait, Tel: + (965) 535 5511/22, Fax: + (965) 535 5566, E-mail: manager@kmsc.net or admin@q8racing.com, www.q8racing.com


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, International Media Liaison Officer, 2008 Kuwait International Rally, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)







Date issued: 11/02/2008

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