MERC: Al Sowaidi to take part in Trodos Rally

Qatar's Hamad Al Sowaidi confirmed today that he will head for Cyprus later this month in a bid to ensure that the race for this year's Middle East Championship Group N title will be decided in the Dubai International Rally. Al Sowaidi, who had...

Qatar's Hamad Al Sowaidi confirmed today that he will head for Cyprus later this month in a bid to ensure that the race for this year's Middle East Championship Group N title will be decided in the Dubai International Rally.

Al Sowaidi, who had virtually conceded the Group N crown to the UAE's defending champion, Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, has changed his plans and will now contest the Troodos Rally, penultimate round of the 2001 FIA Middle East series, on October 20-21.

To snatch the title, he will need to take maximum points in Group N in Cyprus, and in Dubai on November 15-16, and also hope that Sheikh Abdullah finishes outside the production class top four in the championship's last of eight rounds.

"There's only a very small chance for me, but I've decided to go to Cyprus to try and win Group N there, and then do my best in Dubai," said Al Sowaidi.

Al Sowaidi, who will be competing in Dubai for the first time, has already topped Group N twice this season - in Jordan and Syria - while also finishing second in the production class in Abu Dhabi and fifth in Bahrain.

Sheikh Abdullah has an 18-point Group N championship lead after production class wins in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain, second places in Jordan and Syria, and third position in Lebanon. He does not plan to compete in Cyprus, knowing that, whatever the outcome in the Troodos Rally, he will secure the Group N title again by finishing in the production class top-four in Dubai, where he won Group N last year.

In Cyprus, Al Sowaidi plans to boost his challenge by driving the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 of Oman's former Middle East Group N champion, Nizar Al Shanfari. The car was taken to Cyprus for rebuilding after breaking down in Bahrain earlier this year.

Middle East Group N Championship leading positions after six rounds: <pre> 1. A.Al Qassimi (UAE) 46pts; 2. H.Al Sowaidi (QT) 28pts; 3. M.Al Hajri (QT) 11pts; 4. R.Cremen (AUS) 10pts; 5. Skh J.Al Khalifa (BAH) 6pts; 6. F.Bustami (HKJ) 5pts.

- http://rally-net.20m.com

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Series Other rally
Drivers Nizar Al Shanfari