MERC: Qatar Rally Team Syria Rally preview

Al Attiyah looking to consolidate championship lead in Syria. Qatari rally driver Nasser Al-Attiyah contests the two day Syria International Rally on Thursday 11th September , looking to increase his lead in the FIA Middle East Championship in...

Al Attiyah looking to consolidate championship lead in Syria.

Qatari rally driver Nasser Al-Attiyah contests the two day Syria International Rally on Thursday 11th September , looking to increase his lead in the FIA Middle East Championship in his Qatar National Bank, Al Jazeera Satellite TV and 2006 Asian Games Doha supported Subaru Impreza WRC2002.

Partnered by English co-driver Steve Lancaster from Selby in Yorkshire, Al Attiyah is aiming for victory number three in the championship after highly dominant performances on the Qatari and Jordanian rounds of the mostly desert series. A retirement on the Rally of Lebanon has been the only blot on the talented Doha driver's copybook after an impressive series of drives in the Autotek Motorsport run machine.

Olympic standard skeet shooter Al-Attiyah was in blistering form on the recent Jordan International Rally. After battling with series rival and Peugeot 206 WRC entrant Abdullah Bakhashab in the early stages, Nasser romped home to win by a near eleven minute margin after his Saudi rival was forced to retire.

Unfortunately for Nasser, Bakhashab has decided against entering the Syrian event, a decision that has disappointed the 32 year old:

"Its very sad that Abdullah will not be joining us for the rally in Syria. The competition between us has been very good this year, and we both push each other very hard on the stages. Of course, one less rival is a major boost for my championship hopes, but we would like to see Abdullah out there in the desert. Its a shame for him."

Al-Attiyah's main rivals are both driving Mitsubishi's, albeit in Group N and Group A guise. The Group A car sees the Cypriot driver Andreas Tsouloftas behind the wheel. After finishing on the podium in Jordan, the Lancer driver has now committed to the rest of the season, and lies just 12 points behind Nasser in the standings.

Three points behind the Qatar Motor Federation driver is Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi in his Group N Lancer. Consistent finishes so far this season have seen him become Al Attiyah and Lancaster's closest rival for the title. Bakhashab's decision to stay away from the event will strengthen the UAE driver's hopes of gaining a podium position once again in Syria. For Nasser however, the plan for the event is a simple one:

"We must strengthen our championship position on this event. It will be my first time competing in Syria, but the desert stages should not be a major shock to the system for me. I very much enjoy the desert stages, and the Subaru works very well on this kind of surface. I think we need to get off to a good clean start, and we need to see how things go from there. Maximum points from the event would be great, but anything can happen on the FIA Middle East rallies. Hopefully our excellent desert form from the Qatar and Jordan rallies will carry over to Syria. I'm sure the competition will still be strong out there".

The rally gets underway from the capital Damascus using desert stages near the main Syrian-Iraq road. With an overnight halt pencilled in at the city of Palmyra, the crews will spend another day on the desert before returning to Damascus on Friday afternoon for the finish.

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah