Al-Attiyah scored a popular victory.
Justin Dale scored the Group N victory.

As Muhamed Ben-Sulayem, fourteen times Middle-East champion misses the opening round of the championship in Qatar cause of sponsership problems, returning to the championship Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah wins the rally.

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah scored a popular victory this weekend on his home event, the Qatar Rally, the opening round of the 2003 Middle East Championship. Having been absent from the sport for four years, Al-Attiyah was the first Qatari to win the event for ten years.

He led the rally from the first stage in a Subaru Impreza WRC and held off a determined challenge from Abdullah Bakhashab in his new Peugeot 206 who twice led before being sidelined by engine trouble.

Brothers Abdullah and Khaled Al-Qassimi finished second and third, but Khaled was later excluded when his Group N Mitsubishi failed at scrutineering for a technical infringement. This promoted Briton Justin Dale to third overall and the Group N Victory, nice start for his campein in the Middle-East.

Arab top rally driver, Ben-Sulayem forced to sit out of the Qatar rally as he waits for his new red-bull Ford Focus WRC due to a shortfall in his sponsership which has delayed the arrival of the new car from the UK. It is the first time since 1993 that he missed the opening round of the championship, when he was involved in a world championship program. He hopes to come back in the next round of the championship, in Jordan. <pre> Top Five Result: 1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Subaru Impreza WRC 1h 42m 15.6s 2. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Khaled Zakaria (HKJ) Ford Focus WRC 1h48m 46.1s 3. Justin Dale (GB)/Andrew Bargery (GB) Subaru Impreza 1h53m 54.7s 4. Abdullaziz Al-Kuwari (QA)/Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 1h 59m 25.9s 5. Craig Johnson (GB)/Tim Line (GB) Subaru Impreza 1h 59m 50.6s

-duby miller