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AL KETBI SET FOR POWERFUL NEW BID TO END DUBAI RALLY HEARTACHE

27 November, 2012

UAE driver ready for dramatic Regional Rally Car battle with aim toproduce home victory for Crown Prince

Rashid Al Ketbi hopes to end his run of disappointments in the Dubai International Rally over UAE National Day weekend.

Rashid Al Ketbi hopes to end his run of disappointments in the Dubai International Rally over UAE National Day weekend.

Rashid Al Ketbi hopes to end his run of disappointments in the Dubai International Rally over UAE National Day weekend.

Dubai, UAE, 27th November, 2012:  Rashid Al Ketbi has given himself every chance of a long awaited first home victory in the Dubai International Rally over UAE National Day weekend as he bids to prevent Nasser Al Attiyah from taking the title back to Qatar again.

The Emirati driver has turned to vastly experienced Austrian Manfred Stohl for help to break his run of heartache in the traditional final round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, and believes he can block Al Attiyah’s path to a sixth successive win in Dubai.

Stohl, the former World Rally Championship contender who now runs his own team, is managing Al Ketbi’s latest Dubai Rally charge at the wheel of a brand new Ford Fiesta RRC, one of seven powerful Regional Rally Cars lined up for the event.

Al Ketbi is determined to produce a win in the Skydive Dubai Fiesta to thank H.H.Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, for his consistent support

The event is held under the patronage of H.H.Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. The rally is staged with the full support of the Dubai Ruler’s Court, and is backed by Emarat, Dubai Police, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Dubai, and the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services, and Dubai Civil Defence.

Al Ketbi will be making his first ever appearance behind the wheel of one of the new turbo-charged cars which now set the pace in FIA regional rallying worldwide, and he says Stohl’s knowledge of the vehicle and his team management, could prove vital.

“Everything about this car is different – the set-up, the suspension, the handling, and it takes time to get used to it,” said Al Ketbi. “But Manfred has been teaching me everything he knows and we have done a lot of testing.

“We have a very professional team and I am ready. If I don’t have any problems I think I can win. Nasser is the champion, but I don’t think he will find it easy in Dubai. This must the biggest number of Regional Rally Cars to start a rally, and all the drivers want to win.”

Stohl, who followed his father, Rudi, into the World Rally Championship in the early 1990s, competes in Al Ketbi’s recce car, a Group N Subaru Impreza, and will be happy to finish the rally, which provides his first experience of Middle East desert stages.

In addition to Middle East Championship leader Al Attiyah and Al Ketbi, Qataris Abulaziz Al Kuwari, Misfer Al Marri and Khalid Al Suwaidi, and UAE brothers Sheikh Khalid and Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, also enter Regional Rally Cars.

While Al Attiyah can afford to finish fifth and still secure his eighth Middle East title, he will want to end the championship in style with an eighth win in Dubai.

That sets up the tantalising prospect of a classic finale to the season as the seven RRCs battle for supremacy over the fast and demanding Dubai Rally stages.

“It has all the ingredients of a great rally and a perfect ending to the championship,” said Dr Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the rally organisers.

Al Ketbi hopes 2012 is his year after a succession of disappointments. In 2009 he was fastest on most of the stages, but lost his chance of victory because of mechanical problems. A year later his car rolled and went out of the rally after he had cut Al Attiyah’s lead to 43 seconds at the start of the second leg.

Last year Al Ketbi led at the end of the first leg, but was edged out by 37.7 seconds as the Qatari produced a dramatic surge to victory after lying fourth overnight.

Again this year the Rally HQ is based at Dubai Men’s College, in the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) campus, Academic City.

The 34th Dubai International Rally has its ceremonial start on Emaar Boulevard, in Old Town Dubai, at 7.30pm on Thursday (29 November).

The rally action begins in earnest on Friday morning (30 November), with six Leg 1 special stages running in the Malaiha and Shawka area, all easily located from the Sharjah-Kalba Road.

Another six special stages on Saturday’s Leg 2 are in the Al Dhaid area and are easily located from the Sharjah-Kalba Road or the Al Dhaid Road. The survivors will reach the finish back on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai, at 4.30pm on Saturday 1 December.

 

2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship standings after five of six rounds:

Pos Drivers Pts
1 Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT) 68
2 Abdul Aziz Al Kuwari (QAT) 52
3 Roger Feghali (LBN) 43
4 Misfer Al Marri (QAT) 39
5 Nicholai Georgiou (LBN) 33
6 Khalid Al Suwaidi (QAT) 25
7 Sh Abdulla Al Qassimi (ARE) 24
8 Abdo Feghali (LBN) 18
= Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 18