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Qatar - 27-28 Jan 12

Posted: January 31, 2012 4:37 PM - 3495 Hits

Round 1 - 2012 Middle East Rally Championship

MINI WINS FIRST INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Posted: January 31, 2012 4:37 PM

The MINI John Cooper Works rally car won its first FIA international event this weekend when Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari took victory at the Qatar International Rally, the first round of the 2012 Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).

Al Kuwari and his co-driving brother, Nasser Al-Kuwari, emerged victorious by a margin of 2m 24.9s and confirmed their first career MERC win and a debut success for the Prodrive-built and Tok Sport-run MINI John Cooper Works Super Production Car (SPC).

“It is a fantastic feeling to win this rally,” said Al-Kuwari, who became the 32nd driver in history to win at least one round of the MERC. “I have achieved success in national rallies in Qatar, but this was the big one. This was the rally I wanted to win. It was a great battle with Nasser. The new car was fantastic. This is the biggest win of my career.”

Prodrive chairman, David Richards, said:
“It is particularly fitting that the MINI’s first international win has come in Qatar, as this was also Prodrive’s first ever rally back in 1984 in the inaugural year of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, when Saeed Al Hajri took victory in our Rothmans Porsche 911 SC RS. Saeed went on to win the Middle East Rally Championship that year; let’s hope Abdulaziz can do the same.”

The MINI SPC is the regional rally specification of the MINI World Rally Car. The cars are nearly identical except that the SPC runs with a smaller engine restrictor (30 mm versus 33 mm) and a smaller rear wing.

QATAR’S ABDULAZIZ AL-KUWARI SECURES FIRST MERC WIN FOR NEW MINI S2000 WITH VICTORY IN QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Posted: January 30, 2012 5:35 PM

Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari held his nerve and drove in a cool and measured way to secure a stunning victory in the Qatar International Rally, the opening round of the 2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), in Doha on Saturday.

Despite fierce pressure from Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah over the second day’s six gravel stages in the Qatar desert, Al-Kuwari and his co-driving brother Nasser Al-Kuwari emerged victorious by the margin of 2m 24.9s and duly confirmed their first career MERC win and a debut success for the Prodrive-built and Tok Sport-run Mini S2000 in the Middle East.

“It is a fantastic feeling to win this rally,” said a delighted Al-Kuwari, who became the 32nd driver in history to win at least one round of the MERC. “I have achieved success in national rallies in Qatar, but this was the big one. This was the rally I wanted to win. It was a great battle with Nasser. The new car was fantastic. This is the biggest win of my career.”

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini produced a classic second day fight back in their Kronos Peugeot 207 S2000. Trailing by 5m 29.3s at the overnight halt after missing the final stage of day one, Al-Attiyah began Saturday’s action with two stunning stage times to move up from fifth overall to second position.

But overhauling Al-Kuwari was one bridge too far for the seven-time regional rally champion and he was unable to achieve a 10th successive Qatar Rally win in the Kronos Peugeot 207 S2000. It was the first time since 2002 that another driver had won the Qatar International Rally, but Al-Attiyah has produced a stunning challenge nonetheless.

“It was always going to be a big ask to come back and win, but I gave it my best shot,” said Al-Attiyah.

Lebanon’s Nick Georgiou and Nabil Njeim enjoyed their return to MERC action by confirming the final podium position in a Motortune Mitsubishi. Georgiou will now be hoping to kick-start his challenge for honours in a full programme of regional rallies.

The Turkish female crew of Burcu Cetinkaya and Cicek Guney stunned many of their male rivals on their Qatar debut. Lying third at the overnight halt, the talented Turkish duo retained a professional and cautious pace over the final day to seal fourth overall, beating the previous best fifth place in the MERC they had earned in Dubai last December.

Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri, the 2010 regional champion, was forced to tackle day two with a fistful of time penalties under SupeRally. He started 11th but surged through the field to take fifth position.

The Kuwaiti Meshari Al-Thafiri finished sixth in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Jordan’s Hani Al-Bast, a troubled Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah of Qatar, Germany’s Edith Weiss and Jordanan Rasheed Alaa rounded off the top 10.

Qatar’s Khaled Al-Suwaidi and Kuwait’s Fahad Ashknani both retired on the first stage of the day with respective engine and front suspension problems. Mubarak Al-Hajri staged his own fight back over day two and managed to move up to sixth position after starting eighth. But the Qatari’s Subaru engine failed in the 10th stage and last year’s day one leader was sidelined.

There was also bitter disappointment for Kuwait’s Essam Al-Nejadi. He held fifth until the final stage before succumbing to mechanical problems.

Results

Posted: January 30, 2012 5:32 PM

Full Results: (10 Finishers)
1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Mini S2000 2h 24m 55.2s
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 2h 27m 20.1s
3. Nicholai Georgiou (LBN)/Nabil Njeim (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2h 34m 41.3s
4. Burcu Cetinkaya (TUR)/Cicek Guney (TUR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2h 37m 04.3s
5. Misfer Al-Marri (QAT/Nicola Arena (ITA) Mitsubishi Lancer R4 2h 42m 50.7s
6. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KWT)/Mubarak Al-Thafiri (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2h 51m 48.4s
7. Hani Al-Bast (HKJ)/Ata Al-Hmoud (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 2h 57m 50.6s
8. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Ramy Menhem (LBN) Subaru Impreza 2h 58m 24.4s
9. Edith Weiss (GER)/Vicky Psarall (GRE) Subaru Impreza 3h 07m 34.0s
10. Rasheed Alaa (HKJ)/Ramzi Mansour (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3h 20m 54.5s

ATAR’S NASSER SALEH AL-ATTIYAH IN PEUGEOT 207 S2000 HEADS STRONG ENTRY

Posted: January 27, 2012 10:26 AM

Strength in depth rather than actual numbers is the feature of the final entry list for next week’s Qatar International Rally, round one of the 2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which takes place in the Qatar deserts on January 26-28.

Organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Qatar’s premier international rally has attracted a provisional 19 starters and defending regional champion, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, tops the entry list alongside Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini.

Al-Attiyah has recently returned from the Dakar Rally and will be aiming to win his home event for an unprecedented 10th successive occasion at the wheel of a Peugeot S2000. The Qatari has won the event every year since 2003 and used the services of four co-drivers. Bernacchini has partnered the Doha driver in his last two successes.

While Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari will be hoping to debut his new Mini S2000 with a podium finish in his home event, he and Al-Attiyah face drivers from Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Switzerland and Turkey in the traditional season opener.

Representing the host nation are Mubarak Al-Hajri, Misfer Al-Safran, Khalifa Al-Attiyah, Khalid Al-Suwaidi and Jaber Al-Marri. The event also sees the return of Nicholai Georgiou to the regional series at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX with co-driver Nabil Njeim. Georgiou won the Pirelli Star driver category in the Middle East several years ago and went on to enjoy a limited WRC programme with support from the Italian tyre company.

MERC ever-present Michel Saleh is also on the entry list, alongside Kuwait’s Essam and Meshal Al-Nejadi, Saleh Bin Eidan, Meshari Al-Thafiri and Fahad Ashkanani.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is represented by Rasheed Alaa, Mazan Tantash and Ammar Hijazi and the highly rated Turkish female driver Burcu Cetinkaya wheels out a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Switzerland’s Edith Weiss has also entered the event in a Subaru Impreza.

“It is encouraging to see so many teams from the region supporting the first round of the regional championship,” said QMMF president Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah. “There are several new faces on the entry list and that is good to see. Over the years the MERC has been a brilliant training ground for several drivers, who have gone on to make a name for themselves on the world stage.”

QATAR’S ABDULAZIZ AL-KUWARI SET TO RUN EXCITING NEW MINI S2000 IN QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Posted: January 10, 2012 12:56 PM

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari has put together an exciting deal to enter a new Mini S2000 in this month’s Qatar International Rally, round one of the 2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

The Qatari has agreed to use the car on the Al-Wakra-based event, which is being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and takes place on January 26-28.

Built by Prodrive in England, the S2000 will be run on the all-desert event by Istanbul-based Toksport, which will field a team of Turkish mechanics and an engineer from Prodrive.

Al-Kuwari won four rounds of the Qatar national rally series in 2011 in a Toksport-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and clinched the series in December. The Doha-based driver will be partnered by Nasser Al-Kuwari and has also confirmed exciting plans to tackle a programme of rallies in this year’s seven-round regional series.

“We are delighted to be running Abdulaziz and Nasser in the new Mini in Qatar,” enthused Seyhun Duru of Toksport Ltd. “We have worked together in the Qatar national championship and are confident that we can push for honours in the international series.”

Toksport also runs Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport BMWs in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), customers in Turkish touring car racing and privateers competing in the Turkish rally series. The company also guided Burcu Cetinkaya and her co-driver Cicek Guney to fifth place in the recent Dubai International Rally and are the authorised Prodrive suppliers in Turkey.

The QMMF is offering an assistance package to international entrants in the Qatar International Rally. Teams will be offered four nights’ free accommodation (room and breakfast) in one twin-bedded room for driver and co-driver at the Century Hotel in Doha. Check-in will be on January 25 and checkout on January 29.

The final date for registration for the 2012 Qatar International Rally is Thursday, January 12th, 2012.

QMMF ANNOUNCES QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY SET TO START NEW MIDDLE EAST RALLY SEASON

Posted: January 1, 2012 9:57 PM

The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has confirmed that the Qatar International Rally will get the 2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship underway on January 26-28, 2012.

The event has been the traditional opening round of the series for many years and slick organisation by the Doha-based QMMF has given the event the reputation as the leading round of the prestigious regional rally series.

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is the defending FIA Middle East Rally Champion and will be aiming to seal an unprecedented 10th successive Qatar Rally victory, with nine wins so far achieved since 2003 with the use of four co-drivers.

Officials working under QMMF president Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah have come up with a revised route consisting of a series of challenging gravel special stages in the Qatar deserts, with the rally headquarters and service area based at the Al-Wakra Football Club for a third successive year.

“We look forward to welcoming our international competitors to what has now become a traditional opening round of the Middle East Rally Championship,” enthused Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah. “Our team is putting the finishing touches to the route format and we are pleased to announce concessions for international teams.”

The QMMF is offering an assistance package to international entrants. Teams will be offered four nights’ free accommodation (room and breakfast) in one twin-bedded room for driver and co-driver at the Century Hotel in Doha. Check-in will be on January 25 and checkout on January 29.

Entries have now opened. Reduced entry fees are available until Thursday, January 5th and the final date for registration is Thursday, January 12th, 2012.

Regulations for the 2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship will again permit the use of either Group N or S2000 cars. The series will be fought out over seven rounds, with the Qatar International Rally being followed by an event in Kuwait in March, Jordan in May, Lebanon and Syria in September, Cyprus in November and the final round in Dubai at the start of December.

Regulations / Details / Website

Posted: January 1, 2012 9:55 PM

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