Nissan Launch McRae into Powerful Line Up For UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge Former world rally champion makes competitive debut in Middle East as entries arrive from around the world Dubai, UAE, 2 September 2004: Former World rally champion...
Nissan Launch McRae into Powerful Line Up For UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge
Former world rally champion makes competitive debut in Middle East as entries arrive from around the world
Dubai, UAE, 2 September 2004: Former World rally champion Colin McRae will make his debut in the UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge next month as he continues to underline his reputation as one of the most versatile drivers in motor sport.
The flying Scot enters the penultimate round of the this year's FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies from October 11-15 in a Nissan Pick-up, the vehicle he drove to two stage wins on his first attempt at the gruelling Paris-Dakar Rally earlier this year.
It will be a first competitive appearance in the Middle East for McRae, a former Ford team-mate of Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the 14-times Middle East champion and chairman of the organising committee for the UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge.
"Colin's a fantastic driver and a friend, and I'm delighted that he'll be in action in the Desert Challenge for the first time, and that he'll be driving for one of the most powerful teams," said Sulayem.
"Nissan showed last year that they can take on the best in off-road rallying, and the experience they gained added to Colin's all-round talent should make him one of the leading contenders this time."
Taking place from October 11 -- 15, the Desert Challenge is held under the patronage of H.H.Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence of the UAE.
Nissan's entry of McRae boosted an early entry list highlighting the pulling power of the Desert Challenge, with drivers and riders from Turkey, Lithuania, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Britain, Belgium, Holland, Zimbabwe, Latvia, France, Japan, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Australia, as well as the Middle East (current entry list attached).
With most of the world's other leading off-road stars expected, McRae will have an ideal chance to display the skills which have made him one of the most successful drivers in World Rally Championship (WRC) history
In a brilliant career, the 36-year-old five-times British rally champion has contested a total of 143 World Rally Championship events, winning 25 of them and recording 42 podium finishes. Without a WRC drive since last year's championship, he showed his versatility in January by becoming the first Briton in 14 years to win a car stage of the Paris-Dakar Rally alongside top Swedish lady co-driver, Tina Thorner.
McRae, who has previously tested with the Jordan Formula One team, contested this year's famous Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in a Prodrive Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello. Thorner, who will be McRae's co-driver in the UAE, guided Giniel de Villiers to victory in last year's Morocco Rally, another round of the World Cup series. The South African also briefly led last year's UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge.
The 2004 Desert Challenge is co-sponsored by the Government of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Emarat, ADNOC, Oasis Water, Inmarsat, providers of satellite communications, Nissan, official vehicle supplier to the organisers, Konica copiers, website designers ANLONITS, as well as Dubai International Marine Club and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, the co-hosts for the event and the official Rally HQ.
Following a Prologue in Dubai on October 10, the new five-day format will be officially launched from the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi the following morning.