Tag Archives: Qatar International Rally


Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in action


UAE star impresses on new team’s debut event; young Emirati Al Sahlawi finds first-time success in Doha

Doha, 26 January, 2013: Nasser Al Attiyah won the Qatar International Rally today after a fascinating battle with the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi who sounded a clear message that Abu Dhabi Racing has arrived as a major force in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

While defending Middle East champion Al Attiyah secured victory on home territory to take an immediate lead in this year’s regional title race, he now knows the size of the threat he faces from Al Qassimi in the impressive Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 RRC.

Only 15.2 seconds separated the top two seeds before the crucial turning point in the rally when a puncture effectively ended the UAE star’s hopes of victory on the tenth of the event’s 12 special stages.

Up until then, Al Qassimi had been well in the hunt in the debut event for the new five-car Abu Dhabi Racing team which he is leading in the 2013 FIA Middle East Championship.

Al Attiyah eventually reached the finish in Doha with a winning margin of 55.7 seconds         from Al Qassimi, who had surprised the home favourite by leading the rally at the half way point, having been out of action for most of last year as he recovered from injury.

Qatari Abdulaziz Al Kuwari finished third, with fellow countryman Khalid Al Suwaidi, the UAE’s Sheikh Abdulllah Al Qassimi and Saudi Yazeed Al Rajhi completing the top six.

Completing a fine debut for Abu Dhabi Racing, Bader Al Jabri finished runner-up in the championship’s new Group N category and was placed eighth overall.

And there was instant success for another of Al Jabri’s Emirati team-mates, Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, a complete newcomer to rallying who topped the new two-wheel drive category in his Citroën DS3 R3, and secured a top ten finish in his first event.

There was disappointment for the two other members of the Abu Dhabi Racing team, Majid Al Shamsi and Mohammed Al Mutawaa, who had both impressed on Friday’s first leg.

On the second leg’s first special stage, first leg two-wheel drive leader Al Mutawaa, went out after rolling his Citroën DS3 R3, although he was unhurt. Al Shami, lying second overnight in Group N, suffered a premature exit because of mechanical problems on the same stage.

Initially, at the end of Friday’s first leg, Al Attiyah had been credited with a 4.8 seconds advantage over Al Qassimi. But later one of Al Qassimi’s special stage times from the opening day was corrected, giving him a lead of 2.2 seconds.

Qatar International Rally provisional leading results

1. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RRC                    2:16:47.2

2. Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE)/Scott Martin (GB) Citroën DS3 RRC                                2:17:42.9

3. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (QAT)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC                           2:21:02.2

4. Khalid Al Suwaidi (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Ford Fiesta RRC                               2:22.36.2

5. Adullah Al Qassimi(UAE)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Ford Fiesta RRC                           2:32:39.4

6. Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA)/Michael Orr (GB) Ford Fiesta RRC                                      2:38:39.6

7. Abdulla Al Kuwari (QAT)/Khalid Al Kendi (UAE) Mitsubisi Evo IX                       2:54:07.3

8. Bader Al Jabri (UAE /Nicholas Clinger (FRA) Subaru Impreza N15                         2:55:59.0         

9. Michele De Nora (ITA)/Sergio Secchi (ITA) Subaru Impreza R4                              3:02:32.8

10. Mohammed Al Sahlawi (UAE)/Allan Harryman (GB) Citroen DS3 R3                  3:13:24.1 

FIA Middle East Rally Championship positions 

1. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT)                  25pts

2. Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE)                 18pts

3. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (QAT)             15pts

 4. Khalid Al Suwaidi (QAT)                12pts

5. Adullah Al Qassimi(UAE)                 10pts

6. Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA)                    8pts     

7. Abdulla Al Kuwari (QAT)                6pts

8. Bader Al Jabri (UAE)                       4pts     

9. Michele De Nora (ITA)                    2pts

10. Mohammed Al Sahlawi (UAE)       1pt

Group N Championship

1. Abdulla Al Kuwari (QAT)                25pts

2. Bader Al Jabri (UAE)                       18pts   

3. Mishari Al Theferi (KWT)                15pts

2WD Championship


1. Mohammed Al Sahlawi (UAE)         25pts


Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi with FIA Vice President Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem and H.E.Faisal Al Ali


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



World Motorsport Council rubber stamps proposals by FIA Vice President Sulayem to attract young drivers, revitalise regional series

Dubai, UAE, 6 December, 2012:  The FIA Middle East Rally Championship has been given a major boost ahead of the 2013 season starting in Qatar next month, with the regional series taking in four additional title races to attract young driving talent and boost entries overall.

The World Motorsport Council has approved plans to introduce three new parallel championships within the series – for Group N production cars, young drivers, and 2WD vehicles – and launch a T3 category for the first time for 2WD and 4WD buggies.

The proposals, aimed at rebuilding the popularity of the Middle East Championship, were initiated by Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and Vice President of the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body.

Sulayem, the first Arab member of the World Motorsport Council, was at the body’s meeting in Istanbul yesterday (Wednesday) which ratified the plans, and he said afterwards: “This is an important step for the future of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.”

“In recent years, the championship has been in sharp decline, and urgent action was needed to ensure its survival and give it a healthy future. I’m delighted that we are taking positive steps to increase the overall appeal of the championship to attract more entries and create a new generation of young rally drivers.”

The new Group N championship, replacing the existing Group N cup category, will create a more competitive and stand out title race for competitors in production cars who will still be able to compete alongside drivers in more powerful S2000 cars.

The reintroduction of the FIA Middle East Championship for Young Drivers, open for competitors born after 1 November, 1987, is designed to attract a new generation of talent and give greater recognition to the region’s young drivers. The FIA Middle East Championship for 2WD vehicles will similarly recognise and encourage competitors with 2WD cars to compete in their own separate championship.

One of the most exciting developments will be the arrival in the Middle East championship of  the T3 class of  FIA Cross Country homologated vehicles,  including 2WD and 4WD buggies up to 2000cc, some examples of which have been designed and built in the UAE.

“This is going to make championship rallying much more accessible for many people, especially young drivers, because of the comparatively low cost of buggies,” said Sulayem. Drivers competing in this category will be able to contest each round of the largely desert stages championship, with the exception of the Rally of Lebanon which is run on tarmac.

In another move to reverse the trend of falling entries in recent years, the homologation period of some older rally cars has being extended, giving a new lease of life to vehicles – and their drivers – which fell out of the series but can now continue until 2016.

The World Motorsport Council also approved next year’s FIA Middle East Rally Championship calendar. The events and dates are:

25-26 January              Qatar International Rally

21-23 March                Kuwait International Rally

9-11 May                     Jordan Rally

6-8 September             36th Rally of Lebanon

3-5 October                 Syrian International Rally (Candidate event for inclusion in 2014)

1-3 November             Cyprus Rally

28-30 November         Dubai International Rally