SULAYEM BACKS ABU DHABI RACING TO HELP REVIVE MIDDLE EAST RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Dubai, UAE, 24 January, 2013: Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem says the five-car challenge by Abu Dhabi Racing in the 2013 FIA Middle East Rally Championship which gets under way in Qatar tomorrow can help revive the regional series.
Sulayem sees the Qatar International Rally as the starting point in a new era for the Middle East series, which this year includes three new parallel championships – for Group N production cars, young drivers, and 2WD vehicles – as well as a T3 category for 2WD and 4WD buggies.
After convincing the World Motorsport Council to restructure the championship in order to rebuild its fading popularity, he believes the presence of five Emirati drivers in the Abu Dhabi Racing team this season can boost efforts to attract more young Arab talent.
“This is a very positive development for UAE motor sport, and for the Middle East Rally Championship,” said Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, who will be attending the Qatar International Rally, the first of the six-round 2013 series.
“One of the main ideas behind Abu Dhabi Racing is to create more opportunities for young Emiratis to compete in international motor sport events, and this reinforces what we are doing in re-shaping the championship.
“With five Emirati drivers and the most professional back-up team we have seen in the Middle East, it can only help to raise the profile of the championship, attract the attention of other young Arab drivers, and help to bring in the extra sponsors rallying needs to get back to where it was.”
The Abu Dhabi Racing challenge is led by Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi , supported by Majid Al Shamsi and Badr Al Jabri who contest the new Group N title race, and Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Mohammed Abdullah Hussain Al-Sahlawi in the 2WD championship.
Starting at 8am tomorrow, the Qatar International Rally incorporates a sophisticated new tracking system designed to eliminate route deviations.
This was tested successfully during last month’s Dubai International Rally and will be used throughout this year’s Middle East Championship.
Through tracking devices fitted onto rally cars, it shows when competitors stray off line by more than the ten-metre legal limit, so that rally organisers can impose time penalties.
The new upgraded system has been developed to ensure a fairer level of competition, with realistic penalties now replacing the harsher ones of recent years to allow those who stray off line to remain in contention