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Qatar International Rally - 3-5 Feb 11

Posted: February 4, 2011 10:12 PM - 5801 Hits

Round 1 - 2011 Middle East Rally Championship

Live Results & Tracking: Middle East Rally Championship (FIA)

TEAMS COMPLETE RECONNAISSANCE FOR WEEKEND’S QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY / Defending champion Misfer Al-Marri aborts plans to run Skoda

Posted: February 2, 2011 12:40 PM

International competitors from 10 countries have completed their two-day reconnaissance of the route for the 2011 Qatar International Rally, round one of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. The event will start outside the headquarters of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) in Salwa Road, Doha, at 09.00hrs on Friday morning.

A selection of the leading entrants from Qatar, the UAE, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, England, Italy, Jordan, Switzerland and Germany will join QMMF President Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah at the official pre-event press conference at the QMMF from noon on Thursday, before tackling 12 timed gravel stages in the desert to the south of Doha over the weekend.

Qatar event officials have moulded a revised route with the priority to ensure that the stages are smooth and challenging.
“It’s so quick out there,” admitted co-driver Steve Lancaster, who is partnering the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi in the ex-Attiyah Ford Fiesta S2000 and bidding to win the Qatar International Rally for the first time since 2003.
“There is less chance of picking up a puncture but we will really need to be careful.”

Defending regional rally champion Misfer Al-Marri had been hoping to debut a new Austrian-run Skoda Fabia S2000 on his home event, but budgetary issues have hit Al-Marri’s 2011 programme and he will not start as the top seed this weekend with Italian co-driver Nicola Arena.

That privilege now falls to multiple regional champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, who celebrated his recent Dakar Rally success by hosting a dinner for media and invited guests at the Millennium Hotel in Doha on Tuesday evening.

Another driver hoping to challenge for a podium and try to prevent Al-Attiyah from claiming an unprecedented ninth successive Qatar Rally triumph is Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari. The Qatar Rally Team youngster is confident that he can squeeze into the top three in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

Meanwhile, Lebanese veteran Michel Saleh was forced to miss the first day of the recce after recruiting new Syrian co-driver Yazan Rijleh at the 11th hour. The duo were able to check both days of the route on Wednesday with special permission from QMMF officials and Saleh – the winner of the Kuwait Rally in 1984 and the Oman Rally in 1993 – will start at number nine in his Subaru Impreza.

“We are running a two-car team this time,” enthused Saleh.
“Nancy Al-Majali and Nadia Shnoudeh, from Jordan, are using my other car, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.”


Posted: January 27, 2011 12:36 PM

The UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi has acquired the Ford Fiesta S2000 that Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah drove on several rounds of last year’s FIA Middle East Rally Championship and will drive it in next week’s Qatar International Rally. The opening round of the 2011 regional series takes place on February 3-5.

The former regional Group N champion and winner of the 2000 UAE International Rally is one of the most experienced competitors on the Middle East rally scene and is excited about the prospect of switching to the car that Al-Attiyah used to win last year’s events in Syria, Cyprus and Dubai.

Al-Qassimi’s car will be run by Ken Skidmore’s Autotek Motorsport operation and the Emirati again teams up with English co-driver Steve Lancaster, the winner of the Qatar International Rally in 2003.
“We carried out a short test with Abdullah in Sharjah during the first weekend of January and all went very well,” enthused Skidmore.

Meanwhile, defending regional champion Misfer Al-Marri has also confirmed that he will run a QMMF-backed Skoda Fabia S2000 on the Qatar International Rally. The Doha driver won the series last year in a Subaru Impreza and has been piecing together his 2011 programme in recent weeks.

The Austrian Baumschlager Rally Racing (BRR) team will run the Skoda and Al-Marri again teams up with Italian co-driver Nicola Arena.

Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, the 2004 FIA Middle East rally champion, will not be trying to win back his title this season. The Abu Dhabi driver is already confirmed to drive a Ford Fiesta RS WRC in the FIA World Rally Championship with Ulster co-driver Michael Orr, but has not been able to finalise a sponsorship package to enable him to run a Ford in the Middle East.

Swiss female driver Edith Weiss has entered the 2011 Qatar International Rally. A regular on various rallies around the world for a number of years, Weiss is enthusiastic about her motor sport and has tackled the Qatar event on several occasions in the past in a variety of different cars.

She attended last October’s Rally Antibes d’Azur in France on an invitation from the organisers and has a long-term ambition of switching to an official management capacity at global motor sport events. Germany’s Claudia Harloff will co-drive for Weiss in Qatar.


Posted: January 18, 2011 1:02 PM

Fresh from achieving the greatest sporting victory for an Arab in history, Dakar Rally-winning Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will be aiming to add to his own piece of motor sporting history when he tackles next month’s Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), on February 3-5, 2011.

Al-Attiyah became the first Arab to win the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile in South America last weekend and now the Qatari will be hoping to clinch an unprecedented ninth successive victory in the Qatar International Rally.

Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) was one of the first to congratulate Al-Attiyah on his superb achievement.
“On behalf of everyone at the QMMF I congratulate Nasser on this superb achievement. He has made everyone in Qatar proud and we are delighted that he has fulfilled one of his goals.”

“I knew that the big Dakar special stage into Córdoba two days from the end was the most important of my life,” said a delighted Al-Attiyah.
“I was not going to take any risks. I had a dream when I was very young that I would win the Dakar.

“Even at the start in Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day I felt relaxed and comfortable. I cannot describe what it feels like to win this event. I was so close last year and I was leading the year before, but this is something very special. This is the biggest moment in my career.”

Al-Attiyah has won the regional rally title six times in the last eight seasons and has amassed 38 victories in rounds of the championship.

“The Qatar Rally is also special for me. It is a fantastic feeling to win your home event and it is important that I manage to make a good start to the new season.”

Al-Attiyah’s eight Qatar victories have been earned with four different co-drivers. England’s Steve Lancaster partnered the Qatari to his first success in a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car in 2003 and Ulsterman Chris Patterson came on board for the candidate event in 2004. That triumph marked the first of five successes with Patterson, as the pair dominated the Qatari’s home rally in various evolutions of the Group N Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

Patterson switched to the FIA World Rally Championship at the start of 2009 and Al-Attiyah recruited the services of his female Dakar co-driver Tina Thörner, from Sweden. The pair had led the Dakar through the early stages that year and went on to win the Qatar event in a privately-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. The success also created a little piece of history for Thörner - she became the first lady ever to win a round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Shortly afterwards, Al-Attiyah began his now successful partnership with Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini. The pair won the 2010 Qatar Rally in a Ford Fiesta S2000 and has now won nine rounds of the regional series in less than two years.

Bernacchini is already the fourth most successful co-driver in the 163-event history of the MERC behind Ireland’s Ronan Morgan, Patterson and Dubai-based English veteran John Spiller.

The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) is offering generous concessions and an assistance package to international entrants. Teams will be offered six nights’ free accommodation (room and breakfast) in one twin-bedded room for driver and co-driver. The final date for registration is Thursday, January 20th, 2011.


Posted: January 13, 2011 12:30 PM

Misfer Al-Marri, Qatar’s recently-crowned FIA Middle East Rally champion, will begin the defence of his regional title in the Qatar International Rally, round one of the regional series, which takes place on February 3-5, 2011.

Al-Marri and his Italian co-driver Nicola Arena were the model of consistency in last year’s eight-round series and managed to score points on seven of the eight events. They moved straight into second position in the championship by taking the runner-up spot in the 2010 Qatar International Rally and shot into the joint lead by recording a similar finishing position in the punishing Jordan Rally.

Al-Marri also claimed eight championship points for finishing second behind Yazeed Al-Rajhi in Saudi Arabia’s Sharqia Rally and began to realise that claiming his maiden regional title was becoming a distinct responsibility after he took points for being the third MERC-registered finisher in the all-tarmac Rally of Lebanon.

It was critical that he finished the remaining three rounds of the series and, despite the fact that outgoing champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah secured a maximum 30 points in Syria, Cyprus and Dubai, Al-Marri earned six in Syria, was runner-up in Cyprus and claimed the all-important six in Dubai to seal the title by four points in one of the most exciting finishes in the regional series’ history.

“It was a memorable year for me,” said Al-Marri. “I was extremely proud to win the Middle East Rally Championship and pay back some of the support that I have received from the Qatar Motor and Marine Sports Federation (QMMF).”

The Qatari was duly honoured at the traditional FIA end-of-season awards’ ceremony in Monaco and has now begun preparations for the defence of his title in a QMMF-backed car. Al-Marri is still finalising details for his car for the 2011 season.

The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) is offering generous concessions and an assistance package to international entrants. Teams will be offered six nights’ free accommodation (room and breakfast) in one twin-bedded room for driver and co-driver. The final date for registration is Thursday, January 20th, 2011.


Posted: December 18, 2010 7:35 PM

The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has confirmed that the Qatar International Rally will get the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship underway on February 3-5, 2011.

The event has been the traditional opening round of the series for several years and slick organisation by the Doha-based QMMF have given the event the reputation as the leading round of the prestigious regional rally series. The championship was dominated by Qatar drivers in 2010 and recently saw Misfer Al-Marri crowned as regional champion for the first time.

Officials working under QMMF president Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah have devised a new, challenging route consisting of gravel special stages in the Qatar deserts, with the rally headquarters and service area based at the Al-Wakra Club for a second successive year. The event will take place a week later in the calendar in 2011, having run at the end of January for the last few seasons.

Regulations for the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship will again permit the use of either Group N or S2000 cars. The series will also adopt the WRC-type points’ scoring system for the first time with 25 points awarded to the winner, 18 for second, 15 for third, 12 for fourth, 10 for fifth, etc, down to one point for 10th place.

The seven-round series will be fought out over seven rounds, with the Qatar International Rally being followed by an event in Kuwait in March, Jordan in April, Lebanon in September, Syria in October, Cyprus in November and the final round in Dubai at the start of December.

Elie Semaan will work as clerk of the course for a sixth consecutive season and has been working hard with Al-Attiyah’s team in Doha to find a compact and challenging route for the two days of competitive action on February 4th and 5th.

“We have moved forward a week in the calendar and come up with some revisions and improvements to the rally,” enthused Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah. “The QMMF enjoyed great success in the 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship and we were delighted that Misfer Al-Marri and Khalid Al-Suwaidi featured so prominently in the championship in 2010. It is our goal to get the new season off to a first class start in February.”

“The stages on day one are similar to 2010, but we have one totally new one and lost of modifications to the others,” added Semaan. “Day two will take place in the area around Mukaynis, south-west of Doha, and Wehad over tracks that were last used in the 1990s. They should be twisty and challenging.

“We have three totally new specials and the terrain is undulating with technical and narrow corners. The route offers a balance of hard and well compacted ground and one stage will run close to the Arabian Gulf.”

The QMMF is offering generous concessions and an assistance package to international entrants. Teams will be offered six nights’ free accommodation (room and breakfast) in one twin-bedded room for driver and co-driver.

Entries have now opened. Reduced entry fees are available until Thursday, January 13th and the final date for registration is Thursday, January 20th, 2011.


Posted: December 18, 2010 7:32 PM

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