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MERC Bahraini Hassan Al Sadadi set for MERC return in Syria

2008 Syrian International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3 of 8

For immediate release
Sunday, May 18th, 2008

QATAR'S NASSER AL-ATTIYAH SET TO TAKE
FIVE-POINT CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO SYRIA
 
Bahrain's Hassan Al-Sadadi makes return to MERC in Syria

DAMASCUS (Syria): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will take a five-point lead in the 2008 FIA Middle East Rally Championship into the third round of the series in Syria on June 5th-7th. The defending regional champion overcame a catalogue of problems to record third place in last weekend's Cyprus Rally and gain points for being the second registered championship finisher.

Before heading to Sednaya, in the hills to the north of Damascus next month, the Qatari will take part in this coming weekend's Transiberico Rally with the BMW X-raid team in Spain and Portugal. All of the regular championship regulars are expected to attend the popular Syrian round of the series, which features new stages this season and a new service park at Deir Atiyeh city.

The series regulars will be joined on the entry list by the veteran Bahrain driver Hassan Al-Sadadi, who returns to the championship for the first time since his spectacular accident in the Al Ain-based UAE International Rally at the start of the 2006 season.

"I've attended several of the rallies as a spectator in recent months and enjoyed being back amongst friends," admitted the Bahraini. "I am flat out at the moment building a Subaru Impreza N10 to use in Syria. I'm looking forward to coming back and representing Bahrain again in regional rallying."

Several of Subaru's new Impreza N14s took part in last weekend's Cyprus Rally and were plagued by overheating and engine problems. The UAE's Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum and Lebanese team mate Michel Saleh suffered overheating woes, although Oman's Nizar Al-Shanfari was delighted with the performance of his new car. Nevertheless, many of the top seeded regional drivers will face a battle against time to rebuild their cars before the Syrian event and make sure that the problems are not repeated.

Veteran Tony Georgiou, father of Nick Georgiou who finished sixth in Cyprus, reckons that overheating will not be a factor in Syria. "The twisty nature of the stages in Cyprus means that the average speeds are much lower and that makes engines more susceptible to overheating. The deserts in Syria will be much faster and cars will have better cooling. Overheating will not a problem," said the Oman-based Lebanese.

The Syrian event will take place under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism and is being organised by the Syrian Automobile Club.

FIA Middle East Rally Championship - positions after round 2 (unofficial):
Drivers
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)  18 pts
2. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)  13 pts
3. Nicos Thomas (CY)  10 pts
4. Michel Saleh (RL)   7 pts
4. Nizar Al-Shanfari (OM)  7 pts
6. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)  6 pts
6. Nick Georgiou (RL)   6 pts
8. Salah Bin Eidan (KT)  5 pts
9. Faris Hijazi (HKJ)   2 pts
10. Ahmad Al-Kuwari (QA)  1 pt

Ends

For further media information:
Lutfi Estwani, Arabic Press Officer, Tel: + 963 11 232 3706, Fax: + 963 11 231 2785, Mobile: + 963 93234445
or
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, Syrian International Rally, NCH Building, Upper Bar, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 7EH, Tel: + (44) 1952 825078, Fax: + (44) 1952 825001, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153 E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

www.syrianrally.com
www.merc-fia.com

Date issued: 18/05/2008

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