MERC: Qatar Rally Team Group N preview

Qatar Rally Team banking on success for Jordan International Rally. Desert is next on the menu for the Group N drivers of the Qatar Rally Team. The five strong Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI squad of driving talent had a mixed Rally of Lebanon...

Qatar Rally Team banking on success for Jordan International Rally.

Desert is next on the menu for the Group N drivers of the Qatar Rally Team. The five strong Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI squad of driving talent had a mixed Rally of Lebanon on the tarmac stages near Beirut, and next up for the team is the Jordan International Rally, on July 24-26.

Third round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, the Amman based event takes place in searing temperatures and will be a stern test for the five leading Qatar Group N drivers, all of whom prefer the fast and tricky challenges of driving on desert and gravel stages.

The Qatar Rally Team, sponsored by Qatar National Bank will be face some stiff opposition on the three day event, organised by the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan. However, confidence remains high throughout the team, and lead driver Hamad Al-Sowaidi is the man in form, and looking forward to the challenge:

"Jordan is an excellent rally, with many challenges brought by the high heat in the country, especially in July. It will make it a difficult event for sure. In the past, the Jordan Rally has been kind to me, as I have won Group N on the rally and finished second overall before. It is my aim to try and repeat this kind of performance next week" commented the reigning Qatar National Rally Champion. Hamad will be co-driven once again by Irishman Michael Morrissey, after the pair finished 12th overall in Lebanon.

Another driver with a good pedigree on the fast stages near the Dead Sea is Misfer Al-Marri, with co-driver Adel Hussein. The talented 27 year old finished fifth on the 2002 Jordan event en route to finishing second in Group N in the FIA Middle East series. Al-Marri had been performing well on the recent Lebanon rally until a fire on the eighteenth stage forced him to retire. Once again, Misfer will be a man to watch in Jordan.

13th overall in Lebanon after a very good rally was Khalifa Al-Attiyah. Khalifa is well used to the desert stages, after many campaigns in the Qatar Group N Championship in the 1990's. The man from Doha will be very keen to improve his points position in Jordan after a good start to this years FIA Middle East Championship.

Abdulla Al Kuwari is another member of the Qatar Rally Team to have featured strongly in Jordan before. 10th overall on the 2002 event was a fine result for the 2001 Qatar National Rally Champion. The 29 year old, with co-driver Abdullah Al Hajiri was another driver to suffer on the tarmac of Lebanon, retiring after an accident. Abdulla will be looking to beat his previous best finish in Jordan, when he finished 8th overall in 2001.

The final member of the Qatar National Bank backed team heading to Amman is also the youngest. Abdullaziz Al-Kuwari at 23 years old is the least experienced member of the squad. The season has started brightly for the former Autotest champion though, with 2nd Group N and 4th overall on the Qatar International Rally. Another good finish looked likely in Lebanon until that fateful eighteenth stage claimed another Qatar Rally Team victim as Abdullaziz retired due to an accident.

The rally takes place over three days, starting with a spectator friendly super special stage on July 24th. From there, the crews will face stiff challenges posed by the stunning backdrop of stages running close to the Dead Sea. Hilly stages near Mount Nebo and occasional blasts across the open desert make for a difficult yet exciting route for all the crews. The drivers return to Amman for the finish on July 26th.

Qatar Rally Team - Start Order - Jordan International Rally 2003:
8 Hamad Al-Sowaidi/Michael Morrissey.
11 Abdullah Al Kuwari/Abdullah Al Hajiri.
12 Misfer Al-Marri/Adel Hussein.
19 Abdullaziz Al Kuwai/TBA.
21 Khalifa Al Attiyah/TBA.

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Series Other rally
Drivers Adel Hussein