MERC Saudi Arabia set to host first ever candidate round for MERC

Saudi Rally 2008
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, official candidate event

For immediate release
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008




International rallying heads to the Eastern Province

Saudi Arabian Motor Federation set to join rallying’s elite

RIYADH (Saudi Arabia): The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is set to host its first ever international special stage car rally, when the Eastern Province hosts the Saudi Rally, an official candidate event for the 2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, on November 10th-14th, 2008.


The event is being organised by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF), under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz, Governor of the Eastern Province, in the easily-accessible Dammam area with the full co-operation and support of the sport’s governing body, the FIA, and the regional rallying co-ordinator and Vice-President of the FIA, Derek Ledger.


Event officials in Saudi Arabia are currently sourcing suitable special stages to host such an event, but the event’s rally headquarters will be based at Half Moon Bay in the Al Khaleej village, where there will also be a spectator stage and technical scrutineering on Tuesday, November 11th.


It is hoped that the desert special stages will be situated around 20km from rally headquarters and the two days of competitive action will take place on Wednesday, November 12th and Thursday, November 13th.


“We have been encouraged by the success and support for the Hail Saudi Baja, which is now an established round of the FIA International Cup for Bajas,” enthused Mishaal Al-Sudairy, chairman of the organising committee.


“The next step was to run a special stage event, with a view to joining the established events in the region in the prestigious FIA Middle East Rally Championship. Kuwait ran as a candidate rally this February and should become a round of the championship in 2009. Our aim is to follow it into the championship.”


The Saudi Rally is being devised from scratch by Bahrain-based Lebanese consultant Elie Semaan and his technical advisor and assistant clerk of the course Hamoud Al-Jabry, both experienced regional rally organisers.


Semaan was the clerk of the course of the Qatar Rally this year and was a former organiser of the Bahrain International Rally. Al-Jabry worked in an official capacity on the Oman International Rally for many years and, more recently, was involved in the running of the popular UAE national rally series.


“The potential for running a superb special stage rally in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is enormous,” said Semaan. “Our brief is to find an event in the Eastern Province that will adhere to the FIA regulations for the regional championship. It is an interesting region and an event in Saudi Arabia has great potential.”


Other officials have been integral in the success of the Hail Saudi Baja, with Derek Ledger acting as a rally consultant and Saleh Al-Solai working as deputy chairman of the organising committee. Ammar Al-Qadhi will work in the role of rally director and Mohammed Atwa has been appointed as event secretary.


Saudi Arabian rally drivers have made their mark on the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for many years. Mohammed Al-Malki was the first driver to break on to the international scene and was followed into active competition by the eventual 1992 regional champion Mamdouh Khayat.


Abdullah Bakhashab won the regional series three years later before entering the FIA World Rally Championship and Ahmed Al-Sabban and Yazeed Al-Rajhi are regular competitors this season, with Al-Rajhi winning the Kuwait candidate event outright in February this year. Al-Sabban has been the first driver in the Middle East to experiment with the new S2000 category.


Further information about the event is available from the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, PO Box 87881, Riyadh 11652, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 9661 477 1035, Fax: + 9661 477 1050 and from Hamoud Al-Jabry, Mobile: +966 560 623436, E-mail:aljabry@samf.gov.sa, www.saudimotorsport.com





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





Date issued: 02/07/2008

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