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ABDULLAH PREDICTS START-TO-FINISH BATTLE FOR VICTORY IN DUBAI RALLY

27 November, 2013

Top Arab drivers head for classic desert showdown in build-up to UAE National Day

Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi in action in the Dubai Rally last year – he has been trying to win his home event since the early 1980s

Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi in action in the Dubai Rally last year – he has been trying to win his home event since the early 1980s

Dubai, UAE, 27 November, 2013: One of the Emirati drivers hoping for a breakthrough home victory in this weekend’s Dubai International Rally has predicted a fierce tussle for honours in the countdown to UAE National Day.

Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, who has contesting the rally since the early 1980s, says the 35th edition of the UAE’s longest running sports event could see several of the Arab world’s top drivers involved in a start-to-finish battle for supremacy.

His brother, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, heads the UAE challengers aiming to break a run of six successive wins in Dubai for Qatari top seed Nasser Al Attiyah, who has already secured a ninth Middle East title this season.

Emirati Rashid Al Ketbi, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi and Qatar’s 2010 Middle East champion Misfer Al Marri, also want to round off the season with a win.

“They all have a chance this time,” said Sheikh Abdullah, who will be partnered by British co-driver Steve Lancaster in a Ford Fiesta, one of seven powerful Regional Rally Cars in the starting line-up.

“Nasser has already won the championship so he will be going for the win here, and so will Khalid. It will be a big battle, but it’s not just between them.

“Anyone who thinks that might be surprised. The stages are a mix of technical sections and high speed, and I think there will be just seconds between some of us. A small mistake could make all the difference.”

The 35th Dubai International Rally is endorsed by the office of H.H.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

Organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the event is based for a fourth year at Dubai Men’s College, in the Higher Colleges of Technology campus at Academic City, which hosts the Rally HQ and service park.

The campus will also be the setting for scrutineering between 8.30am-12.30pm tomorrow (Thursday), before the ceremonial start takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre at 6.15pm the same day.

UAE flags in abundance decorate the college in the build-up to the 42nd UAE National Day, and ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “The Dubai International Rally has traditionally been part of our national celebrations and has a proud and permanent place in the UAE’s sporting history.

“The rally has produced some great battles over the years, and we have all the ingredients for another classic event once again.”

Sheikh Abdullah, who finished runner-up to Al Attiyah last year, said: “I’ve finished second and third a few times. I’ve lost count of the number of Dubai Rallies I’ve done, but the first was around 1983 and I’ve competed at least 15 times.

“I’ve never gone very close to winning it because I’ve had a few problems here and there over the years. I haven’t given up, but this is my first rally since Jordan (May) so it’s not easy for me to keep up with the other guys.”

The first leg on Friday morning 29 November takes the competitors through Al Dhaid to the first loop of three special stages at Zubeidah, Al Falaj near Khadra village, and Showka, prior to a service regrouping. The same stages are repeated in the afternoon.

The following day’s second leg features two loops of three stages at Al Dhaid (Police College), Khadra and Mileiha are all in the Al Dhaid/Mileiha area and are easily located from the Sharjah-Kalba Road or the Al Dhaid Road. The survivors will reach the finish at Dubai World Trade Centre at 4.30pm the same day.

Carrying the flag - Sheikh Abdullah with co-driver Steve Lancaster after finishing second in last year’s Dubai International Rally

Carrying the flag - Sheikh Abdullah with co-driver Steve Lancaster after finishing second in last year’s Dubai International Rally

 

FIA Middle East Rally Championship Standings after 5 of 6 rounds

 

                                                                        QAT    KWT   JORD  LEB    CYP    PTS

 

1.         Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)                   25        25        25        18        25        118

2.         Sh.Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)          18        18        15        0          18        69

3.         Abdulziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)                 15        15        12        0          15        57

4.         Roger Feghali (LEB)                         0          0          18        25        0          43

5.         Sh. Abdulla Al-Qassimi (UAE)        10        10        10        0          0          30

6.         Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)                       8          12        0          0          0          20

7.         Misfer Al-Marri (QAT)                          0          0          0          6          12        18

 

Group N standings

       QAT    KWT   JORD  LEB    CYP    PTS

 

1.         Mishari Al-Thefiri (KWT)                   15        25        10        0          0          50

2.         Zaid Dahshan (JOR)                         0          15        25        2          0          42

3.         Abdulla Al-Kuwari (QAT)                   25        0          0          1          15        41

4.         Bader Al-Jabri (UAE)                        18        0          15        0          0          33