MERC: Qatar: Round two preview

Al Attiyah heads top class field into Qatar International Rally Defending FIA Middle East rally champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will lead a quality international field from eight countries into the three-day NBKS Qatar International Rally, ...

Al Attiyah heads top class field into Qatar International Rally

Defending FIA Middle East rally champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will lead a quality international field from eight countries into the three-day NBKS Qatar International Rally, which starts at 19.00 hrs, near the Inter-Continental Hotel in Doha, today .

The event is a candidate event for the 2005 FIA Middle East rally championship and has attracted 22 competitors, including Qatar's leading drivers Al-Attiyah, Hamed Al-Sowaidi and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, who finished fourth overall in last year's regional Group N series.

This leading Qatari trio face competition from three Bahraini entrants, who have made the short trip across the water to prepare for the next round of the Middle East series in March. Hassan Al-Sadadi's Subaru Impreza is joined on the entry list by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution of Bahrain's Abdulrahman Ghuloom.

Qatar's rising stars Abdullah Al-Kuwari and Khalifa Al-Attiyah wheel out a pair of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions and the home contingent is further strengthened by the entries of Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah and Mohammed Al-Marri in his nimble Opel Corsa.

Qatari lady driver Nada Zaidan will use the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 of Bahrain's Ebrahim Nasser Al-Busmait for her first assault at the international rally. She will be co-driven by Nadia Jabra Shnoudeh.

Al-Marri lines up against British businessman Harvinder Jutley and Syria's Abir Fudail in the FIA Super 1600 category for two-wheel drive cars. These are normally-aspirated machines, which have less power than their four-wheel drive rivals and normally tackle their own category of the Middle East rally series. Kuwait's Meshal Al-Nejadi is the reigning regional 1600 Champion in his Citroen Saxo and won the opening round of the 2004 championship in Abu Dhabi last month.

Syria's Haitham Al-Yousifi wheels out the third Subaru Impreza on the entry list. he finished fourth overall in the 2003 Dubai Rally and is joined in Qatar by Syrian team mates, Bashar Aboukoura, Amir Arnaout and Khalifa Haifa in a trio of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions and Abir Fudail in a Renault Clio.

Jordanian hopes rest with Mohammed and Emad Juma's entry in a Subaru Impreza, while German lady driver Heiderose Mossen, Britain's David Scialom and the UAE's Saeed Al-Kitbi complete the international line-up. Juma is better known for his rallying exploits in an old Volvo 244, while England-based Scialom is tackling his first ever desert rally.

"We have worked hard on the route for this year's rally," said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation. "There are seven special stages repeated twice and three of them are totally new. Two runs at a Super Special are a new innovation and both the Abu Thayla and Umm Slal sections have never been used before. We have also introduced several changes to the Tinbak, Lagoun, Golf and Samaisma special stages."

The Qatar Rally will also benefit from a new satellite tracking system, which was introduced on all rounds of the FIA Middle East rally championship at the start of this season. A small tracking device is fitted to each car and rally officials can monitor the exact passage of competitors through the desert. This system prevents short-cutting and hands the threat of time penalties to drivers caught flaunting the regulations.

The Qatar National Rally will run 10 minutes behind the main event on Saturday. Local competitors will tackle the special stages on leg two only. Leading the way will be Qatar Rally veteran Peter Murphy and his co-driver Andy Brown in a Toyota Celica. They face competition from the likes of Jaralla Al-Marri's Range Rover, Abdul Wahid Al-Haye's Ford Cougar and the Range Rovers of Zahid Muneer and Tabez Al-Haye.

Competitive action on the 14-stage event gets underway with two runs through a timed 2.53 kms super special stage in Doha from 20.10 on Thursday evening.

-duby miller-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Emad Juma , Peter Murphy , Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari
Teams Citroën World Rally Team