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NAKHEEL BOOSTS DESERT CHALLENGE AS PETERHANSEL SETS SIGHTS ON ANOTHER UAE VICTORY Sulayem confirms sponsorship agreement with leading property developer as Mitsubishi confirms three-car assault Dubai, UAE, 13 September 2006: Stephane ...

NAKHEEL BOOSTS DESERT CHALLENGE AS PETERHANSEL SETS SIGHTS ON ANOTHER UAE VICTORY

Sulayem confirms sponsorship agreement with leading property developer as Mitsubishi confirms three-car assault

Dubai, UAE, 13 September 2006: Stephane Peterhansel will lead a powerful Mitsubishi assault on the UAE Desert Challenge in November as the event enters a new phase with the backing of Nakheel, the premier property developer behind Dubai's most spectacular projects.

Confirmation that Peterhansel will spearhead a three-car Mitsubishi bid backed by fellow-Frenchman Luc Alphand and Japanese star Hiroshi Masuoka arrived as Mohammed Ben Sulayem was confirming a sponsorship agreement with Nakheel.

"We're delighted to have the backing of Nakheel who want to work closely with us to build the Desert Challenge into a bigger and better event," said Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE and chairman of the event's organising committee.

"We have plans to develop the event in a number of areas, to make it more attractive to the big manufacturers, other foreign teams, competitors from around the Middle East, and of course the public, and Nakheel's support allows us to go ahead."

Nakheel is the premier property developer behind a variety of new landmark developments in Dubai such as The Palm, The World, Jumeirah Islands, The Gardens, Ibn Battuta Mall, and Dubai Waterfront. This week, Nakheel launched the first three phases of sales of its latest project Jumeirah Park, which sold out within 24 hours. Later in the year the handover of the first residents will commence on the world's newest landmark, The Palm Jumeirah, just five years after the first grain of sand was laid.

Nakheel's vision is bold; a powerful combination of action and aspiration as it aims to redefine the concept of property development whether residential, tourist, commercial or retail. "We are delighted to be the title sponsor of the Desert Challenge and to support an event which has attracted such global recognition for the UAE", announced Chris O'Donnell, CEO of Nakheel. "Each year the Desert Challenge draws in new international competitors and builds up greater exposure for the UAE and we are very happy to support and be part of this event which represents a strong cultural element of our nation".

Peterhansel, Dakar Rally winner for the last two years, will be chasing a fourth victory in five years in the UAE Desert Challenge, final round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship, on November 5-10.

He has been a regular visitor to the UAE since winning the bikes title in 1996 to underline his status as the world's dominant endurance and off-road rider. He won the Dakar Rally six times before switching from two to four wheels in 1998 and at times since has made driving at the top level, and winning, look easy.

He had a 3 hrs 2 mins winning margin over Spain's Jose Luis Monterde in last year's Desert Challenge, but will be taking nothing for granted this time. Before winning in the UAE last year he suffered a series of mechanical problems costing him victory in Argentina, Morocco and Spain, and he knows that the Desert Challenge is one of the most demanding events in the FIA World Cup series.

If he encounters any problems this time, the Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will still have two other potential winners in Masouka, who won the event in 2004, and Alphand, runner up to Peterhansel in the 2005 Dakar Rally.

This year's Desert Challenge is also sponsored by Nissan Middle East, with the Nissan Patrol the rally's official car. Dubai will stage the event's traditional curtain-raiser, the super special stage, on 5th November before the action switches to Abu Dhabi for the official start the following morning.

The next four days will see a powerful line-up of cars, bikes and trucks tackling some of the most demanding and spectacular desert terrain in the Middle East before the survivors reach the finish line at Dubai International Marine Club on 10th November.

-credit: total communications

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