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Al Attiyah Targets Dubai Rally Win En-Route to New WRC Challenge With Citroen

23 November, 2011

Nasser to go all out for victory in Dubai, then head for France to put Qatar brand on World Rally Champions
  

Dubai, UAE, 23rd November 2011: Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah will go all out to win next week’s Dubai International Rally before heading straight to France to sign an agreement to join Citroen in next year’s World Rally Championship.

Al Attiyah aims to clinch the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for a seventh time over UAE National Day weekend by successfully defending his Dubai Rally title, prior to securing a new deal which will underline his growing status as one of the world’s top drivers.

The Qatari said today that his victory in the 2011 Dakar Rally had paved the way for him to become the third Citroen works driver in the 2012 World Rally Championship in which he will contest all 13 rounds.

While the final details of the agreement have yet to be confirmed, the result will be that the three Citroen Total World Rally Team WRC cars next year, to be driven by reigning world champion

Sébastien Loeb, Finn Mikko Hirvonen and Al Attiyah, will all carry Qatar branding.

Al Attiyah is joining a formidable Citroen team which has just completed a superb 2011 WRC season, securing ten individual rally victories as well as a seventh manufacturers’ title to add to Loeb’s eighth drivers’ crown.

Staying loyal to the FIA Middle East Championship, Al Attiyah will also line-up in six of seven scheduled rounds in next year’s regional series, missing out only on the Cyprus Rally which clashes with the WRC event in Spain.

His immediate priority is the 33rd Dubai International Rally on December 1-3, where he needs no more than a seventh place finish to secure the FIA Middle East title for a seventh time, although the Qatari is interested only in victory.

“I’m going to Dubai to win the rally, not finish seventh,” he said. “But I must be clever as I want to make sure of the championship. I always enjoy driving in the Dubai Rally. It’s the last rally of the season and it’s a special event for me.”

Looking back on his Dakar Rally triumph last January, Al Attiyah said: “That was a great moment for me, to be the first Arab winner of a rally which so many others have tried to win over the years.

“It has opened a lot of doors for me. It means I can continue in the Dakar, and also that I have a new opportunity in the WRC. I will fly to France after the Dubai Rally to finalise a contract with Citroen as the third driver for next year with the official team. The team will carry Qatar branding.”

Al Attiyah’s success is no surprise to Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA Vice President and President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, the Dubai Rally organisers. “He’s a very, very good driver and I’m happy for him,” said Sulayem. “We’re proud to have an Arab driver to represent this region in the World Rally Championship, and I’m sure he will do well.”

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Arts and Culture Authority, and coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the UAE, the 33rd Dubai International Rally has its ceremonial start at 7.30pm on December 1 on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.

Staged with the full support of the Dubai Ruler’s Court, the event is also backed by Emarat, Dubai Police, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Dubai, and the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services.

Partnered by Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in a Ford Fiesta S2000, Al Attiyah will be the first competitor flagged away prior to two days of action getting under way the following morning.

Based at Dubai Men’s College, in the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) campus in Academic City, Dubai, the rally features 12 special stages in a route totalling 802-km in length which leads to the finish at 4.30pm on Saturday December 3 back on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.