Motorsports Mondial

Dubai, UAE, 1st December 2010: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi pledged today to go flat out to present the UAE with a victory to celebrate in the 32nd Dubai International Rally over National Day weekend.

“I’m in it to win and nothing else,” said the Team Abu Dhabi driver, who tackles the final round of the 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship partnered by Irish co-driver Michael Orr in a Super 2000 Ford Fiesta.

“It will be maximum attack. I’m not here just to participate or settle for a place on the podium. I want to win my home event on National Day weekend, not just for myself but for all the people of the UAE.”

With the FIA World Rally Championship now his obvious main priority, Sheikh Khalid can do nothing to influence the outcome of the Middle East series, although he is determined to add to his back-to-back Dubai International Rally wins in 2005 and 2006.

Qatar’s Misfer Al Marri carries a major advantage into the event as he bids to replace fellow countryman Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah as the FIA Middle East champion.

Despite winning the last two championship rounds in Syria and Cyprus, Al Attiyah is still eight points adrift of Al Marri who needs only a top six finish in Dubai to become the fourth Qatari, and the eighth driver overall, to win the championship since it was first held in 1984.

But Al Marri will do well to guard against complacency in an event which has produced many dramatic moments over the years, in a sport which so often throws up the unexpected.

Back in 1993, after finishing level on points with fellow Qatari Nasser Khalifa Al Atya, Sheikh Hamad Al Thani – who is back in action this time – clinched the title in Dubai on a countback because he had previously won the longest rally of the series in Jordan.

Qatar, which produced the first ever FIA Middle East champion in Saeed Al Hajri 26 years ago, could round off this campaign with a regional 1-2-3, as Khaled Al-Suwaidi currently holds third place in the regional series.

But both Skeikh Khalid, and his brother Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, can overhaul him in Dubai and it promises to be a thrilling climax to the championship.

Taking place under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Arts and Culture Authority, the 32nd Dubai International Rally has attracted a starting line-up of 27 drivers from 12 Middle East and overseas countries.

Spectators can get their first close-up view of all the rally cars during scrutineering which takes place between 08.00-12.30hrs tomorrow (Thursday) at the Rally HQ, Dubai Men’s College, in the Higher Colleges of Technology campus, Academic City.

H.H. Sheikh Majid will flag off the cars from the Ceremonial Start on Emaar Boulevard beside The Palace in the Old Town Island, Dubai at 7.30pm on UAE National Day.

For those keen to follow the action, the special stages on Friday’s Leg 1 are found in the Malaiha and Shawka area and can be easily located from the Sharjah-Kalba Road.

The special stages on Saturday’s Leg 2 are in the Al Dhaid area and can be easily located from the Sharjah-Kalba Road or the Al Dhaid Road.

The rally finishes at the Old Town Island, Dubai at 4.30pm on Saturday, December 4. Enthusiasts can follow the event on Facebook at

FIA Middle East Rally Championship drivers’ standings after seven of eight rounds:

1. Misfer Al-Marri (QAT) 44pts

2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) 36pts

3. Khaled Al-Suwaidi (QAT) 22pts

4. Sheikh Abdulla Al-Qassimi (UAE) 21pts

5. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 20pts

6. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SA) 20pts

7. Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani (QAT) 14pts

8. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (QAT) 14pts

9. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT) 14pts

10. Mohammed Al Marri (QAT) 10pts