WORLD TITLE WITHIN REACH FOR NISSAN AS MANUFACTURER EXTENDS DESERT CHALLENGE BACKING
Sulayem builds on event's success story as new agreement keeps Nissan Patrol as official car for dramatic desert rally
Dubai, UAE, 28th August 2006: Nissan is aiming to clinch a 2007 title triumph in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup after reinforcing its backing for the UAE Desert Challenge, the final round of the series.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, driving force behind the Desert Challenge from 4-10 November, today announced a new sponsorship agreement with Nissan Middle East which makes the Nissan Patrol the rally's official car for a third year.
Nissan's continued support for the Desert Challenge is a vital part of Sulayem's plans to ensure the event continues to set the standard for World Championship cross country rallying in the years ahead.
The new agreement was announced at a time when Nissan has high hopes of capturing the World Cup production class title through French driver Christian Lavielle following his successive T2 category wins in Portugal and Morocco in the Team Nissan Adventure Pathfinder.
"Nissan are now a well established partner for the event, and the support of a major manufacturer is crucial as we look to build on the success of the Desert Challenge and ensure it has a bright future," said Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE and chairman of the event's organising committee.
The new agreement puts a fleet of Nissan Patrols at the organisers' disposal, and they will be put to good use as preparations for the event continue in some of the toughest desert conditions in the Middle East.
Sulayem signed the new agreement in Dubai with Toru Hasegawa, Managing Director of Nissan Middle East, who said: "We are very happy to extend our working partnership with the UAE Desert Challenge. Our commitment to the event underscores our confidence that it will continue to go from strength to strength.
"Every year, some of the most experienced drivers and teams continue to use Nissans for top-class international cross country rallying, and this says a great deal about the reliability of Nissan vehicles."
With Lavielle looking to build on his successive World Cup victories in Portugal and Morocco, another Nissan driver has confirmed his challenge for the production class crown in the UAE.
South African Mark Corbett is one of the early entries for the Desert Challenge in a Nissan Navara in partnership with co-driver Juan Mohr.
Among those hoping for better fortunes this time will be Germany lady driver Andrea Mayer who failed to complete the event last year and returns at the wheel of a Mega Dakar Desert with Jorg Sand in the co-driver's seat.
After months of preparations, including a series of excursions into the Empty Quarter by the route planning team, Sulayem is
confident that the Desert Challenge will live up to its reputation for providing a stern but fair test for the world's top drivers
"Some of the competitors said last year that the stages were among the best they had ever come across, and we hope to give
them more of the same time this time," said the 14 times Middle East rally champion. "Of course we want to get as many
people to the finish as possible, but this will be five demanding days of cross country rallying at its very best."