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Press Release


26 November, 2011

Emirati driver eager to thank Sheikh Hamdan for his support with Dubai International Rally win as Emirates celebrates 40th anniversary

Rashid Al Ketbi

Dubai, UAE, 26th November 2011:  Rashid Al Ketbi wants to pull off a “dream” victory in the 33rd Dubai International Rally to present to his sponsor, H.H.Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, on UAE National Day weekend.The Emirati driver says a win in Dubai, at the climax to the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, would be the perfect way to mark the 40th anniversary of the UAE, and to thank H.H. Sheikh Hamdan for his support.

He faces daunting task, as the defending champion in Dubai, Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, has pledged to go all out for victory himself to clinch the FIA Middle East title for the seventh time with his fifth win in the six-round 2011 championship.

But while Al Ketbi has enormous respect for Al Attiyah, he believes the Qatari can be beaten, and he also warned that fellow-UAE driver Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi should not be ruled out as he looks for a big finish to the season.

The two UAE drivers each have a mathematical chance of being crowned FIA Middle East champion, should Al Attiyah encounter major mechanical problems or not finish the Dubai Rally, although Al Ketbi maintains that victory in the event is his only target.

“This is a very important event for me because it’s my home rally, and it’s my dream to win it on UAE National Day weekend for my sponsor, Sheikh Hamdan,” said Al Ketbi.

Dubai Rally 2

“The 40th anniversary is a very special occasion for the UAE, and for all Emiratis, and I have only one target. To win the Dubai Rally would mean more to me than anything else, and I want to do it for His Highness.”

Added Al Ketbi: “Nasser is difficult to beat, and this year he has done 28,000kms in rallying while I’ve done 1,300kms. But I am ready for the challenge and will be going for the win. It will be a big fight between myself and Nasser, but we cannot forget Sheikh Abdullah who has been very strong this season.”

The winner of this year’s Jordan Rally, Al Ketbi finished runner-up to Al Attiyah in the championship points in Kuwait, Cyprus and Lebanon.

He has shown the pace needed to win Dubai Rally over the last two years, without managing to overcome Al Attiyah. In 2009 he was fastest on most of the stages but lost his chance of victory because of mechanical problems. Last year 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.

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Arts and Culture Authority, the 33rd Dubai International Rally is staged with the full support of the Dubai Ruler’s Court, and is also backed by Emarat, Dubai Police, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Dubai, and the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services.

For a second year, the rally is based at Dubai Men’s College, in the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) campus in Academic City, Dubai. Scrutineering takes place between 8am-12.30pm on Thursday, December 1 at the new ATCUAE Technical Centre in Al Nahda. The rally’s ceremonial start takes place at 7.30pm the same day on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.

Dubai Rally 3

The rally action begins in earnest at 9am the following day from HCT, and after 12special stages in a route totalling 802-km, the event finishes at 4.30pm on Saturday December 3  back on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.

2011FIA Middle East Rally Championship standings after five rounds

FIA Middle East Championship final standings  
1. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT) 100 pts
2. Rashid Al Ketbi (UAE) 79 pts
3. Shk Abdulla Al Qassimi (UAE) 78 pts
4. Mufeed Mubarak (KWT) 54 pts
5. Essam Al Nejadi (KWT) 27pts
6. Michel Saleh (LBN) 23pts
7. Meshal Al Nejadi (KWT) 22pts
8. Ammar Hijazi (JOR) 20pts
9. Mazen Tantash (JOR) 20pts
10. Nancy Al Majali (JOR) 14pts
11. Fahad Ashknani (KWT) 08pts
12. Mshari Al Thefiri (KWT) 02pts

* Table shows points scored for previous rounds in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Cyprus and Lebanon.