MERC Kuwait International Rally gets underway on Thursday
KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY, February 28th-March 1st 2008
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, official candidate event
For immediate release
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL RALLY
GETS UNDERWAY ON THURSDAY
Top regional rally teams set for Kuwait Rally showdown
KMSC lays on testing desert route for FIA candidate event
KUWAIT CITY (Kuwait): Kuwait’s official candidate event for inclusion in the 2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship gets underway with a timed super special stage at the Jaber Al Ahmad International Circuit on Thursday afternoon (February 28th).
International drivers from across the GCC, Lebanon, Jordan and the United Kingdom will tackle 14 timed special stages over three days, with the first rally in Kuwait since 1996 scheduled to reach a conclusion at 17.00 hrs on Saturday afternoon. 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.
Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum should start as the favourite to win the first international rally to be held in Kuwait in 13 years. The UAE driver has been absent from the regional rallying scene for over a year, but is one of the fastest drivers in the Middle East and was on a similar pace to Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi when he last tackled the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
Suhail and close friend Michel Saleh are the two most experienced drivers on the entry list, although Lebanon’s Saleh will be giving a debut to his new Prodrive-prepared Subaru Impreza N14 and is determined to take an outright win.
While multiple former regional champion Mohammed Ben Sulayem takes up his official role in the course car in his powerful Ford Escort World Rally Car, Qatar has entered four up and coming drivers. Misfer Al-Marri has been the fastest of the bunch in recent months and the recent Qatar Rally runner-up leads a QMMF team that includes Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah, Khalid Al-Suwaidi and Mohammed Al-Marri.
Kuwait’s Eid Falah will drive a Subaru Impreza N10 owned and supplied by multiple Jordanian national champion Faris Bustami’s company Jordan Rally Preparations. Bustami will be acting as the Kuwaiti’s team manager, as he flies his country’s flag alongside co-driver Khalid Khalifa. Jordanian Ammar Hijazi is also entered in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi is planning to follow fellow countryman Abdullah Bakhashab into the FIA World Rally Championship next month when he tackles the Rally of Argentina, but the promising Saudi driver also has his mind fixed on winning the Kuwait event with British co-driver Steve Lancaster.
Completing the international line-up is British chemist David Scialom and his co-driver Thomas Matthias and the Emirati driver Mohammed Tamjeed at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII.
Kuwaiti officials will also play host to senior FIA officials, including FIA Vice-President Derek Ledger, as the sport’s governing body assesses Kuwait’s suitability for a return to the 2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship. Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), and Mishaal Al-Sudairy, the Chairman of the Saudi Motor Sports Committee (SMSC), will also be in attendance to offer their support to Kuwait’s candidate event.
“Our clerk of the course Walid Mihyar has worked hard to come up with some varied and challenging special stages and we have laid on what we hope will be a fitting event for reinstatement in the regional rally championship next year,” said Sheikh Ahmad Al-Dawood Al-Sabah, President of the Kuwait Motor Sports Club (KMSC). “I would like to welcome all our international visitors and wish everyone a safe and successful rally.”
Thursday’s (tomorrow) timetable begins with the official start at 4pm at the Kuwait Shooting Club and this will be followed by a 26km road liaison section to the start of a timed 3.50km super special stage at the Jaber Al Ahmad International Circuit at Al Farwaneyah.
Friday’s competitive action will consist of six timed special stages in the Kuwaiti deserts, which are characterised by firmer and flatter terrain than that found in nearby Jordan, Dubai or Qatar. The leg restarts at 09.00hrs and teams head into the 17.81km Al Salmi special. This will be followed by runs through the punishing 30.06km Al Atraff section and an 11.00km fourth Shooting Club test. A late morning service at the Shooting Club will be followed by a re-run of the three specials on Friday afternoon.
Saturday’s second and final leg will consist of seven special stages and is the longest of the legs. The eighth special is a 14.07km run through the Sulaibikhat region and this will be followed by a 17.67km Al Metlaa stage and a revised 30.25km run through Al Atraff.
After service and regrouping the stages will be repeated on Saturday afternoon and the competitive action concludes with a second run through the timed super special stage at 16.00hrs. The podium is scheduled for 5pm at the Kuwait Shooting Club. In a total route of 720.54km, 248.72km will be competitive.
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)