UAE DESERT CHALLENGE: - NISSAN PUTS DESERT CHALLENGE IN TOP GEAR
Nissan Patrol named as official car for spectacular event at climax of World Cup series
Dubai, UAE, 3rd September 2007: Mohammed Ben Sulayem today tipped former World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz to make a big bid for victory in this year's UAE Desert Challenge after securing a new sponsorship agreement for the event with Nissan Middle East.
The agreement, which makes the Nissan Patrol the rally's official car for a fourth year, was signed by Sulayem, President of the Emirates Automobile and Touring Club, and Toru Hasegawa, Managing Director of Nissan Middle East.
"We're grateful to have the support of a major manufacturer which wants to work closely with us to build on the success of the Desert Challenge," said Sulayem, who launched the event in 1991. "We have developed a strong working partnership with Nissan and their backing helps to secure the event's future. We'll be working hard to make sure it remains the top event in international cross country rallying."
The new agreement puts a fleet of Nissan Patrols at the disposal of the organisers in the build-up to the event, which forms the final round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup for cars and trucks and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes, from 28th October to 2nd November.
Taking place under the patronage H.H.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the event is also sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, ADNOC and Emarat.
"The Nissan patrols will be put to very good use in the weeks ahead as we prepare for the start and finalise this year's route across some of the most demanding desert terrain in the world," said Sulayem.
"Vehicles that can perform well in the toughest conditions and handle a wide variety of tasks are crucial in the staging of the event like this."
Nissan's Toru Hasegawa said: "We are very happy to extend our commitment to the Desert Challenge, as we're confident that the event will go from strength to strength in the future.
In the highly competitive world of international cross country rallying, some of the most experienced drivers and teams continue to choose Nissan and this is a powerful endorsement of how trustworthy our vehicles are."
Sainz, who finished 10th on his Desert Challenge debut last year, currently shares the lead in the 2007 FIA World Cup series with Norway's Ivar Tollefsen. The Spaniard, a close friend of Sulayem's, won the opening round in Portugal while Tollefsen scored victory in the second round in South Africa.
"Carlos showed what a great driver he is by taking three special stages here last year and but for mechanical problems might have won the event," said Sulayem. "We hope to see him back again and I'm sure he'll push hard for victory."
Frenchman David Casteu, who clinched the FIM Cross Country Rallies world title with fourth place in the UAE last year, holds a 16-point lead in this year's title race from another Spaniard, Marc Coma. Casteu has finished second in each of the three rounds so far in Tunisia, Sardinia and Brazil, while Coma, the 2006 Desert Challenge bikes champion, won the first two events. French star Cyril Despres, a four-times winner in the UAE, lies sixth after his victory in Brazil.
The 17th edition of the UAE Desert Challenge begins with a super special spectator stage in Dubai on 28th October before the official start in Abu Dhabi the following morning.
With most of the world's top drivers and riders again in the hunt, a mighty procession of cars, trucks and bikes head away from the UAE capital for five days of special stage action centred on the Moreeb Hill bivouac close to the Liwa oasis before the finish at Dubai International Marine Club on 2nd December.
-credit: Total Communications