|Baja Qatar: UAE drivers and riders flock to Qatar International Baja 2011.|
Six UAE-based car crews and at least three UAE riders will take part in this weekend’s Qatar International Baja, a candidate event for inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and the first event of its kind to run in the State of Qatar since 2005.
Dubai-based Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum heads the visiting contingent from across the Arabian Gulf, the former FIA Middle East Rally Championship regular switching his attentions to cross-country rallying, where he teams up with co-driver Wael Marjan in a powerful Land Rover 110.
Joining the former MERC front-runner is Matar Al-Mansoori, a regular competitor in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Partnered by Omani co-driver Ahmed Al-Hajri, Matar will use a Nissan Patrol on the two-day event across the remotest parts of the Qatar desert.
Hamada Al-Junaibi represents the four-car Al-Issar Team in his Nissan Patrol and is joined by Salem Rashed and Mohammed Ahmed in a Toyota Land Cruiser and Nabiil Al-Shamsi and Ali Mirza at the wheel of a Nissan Patrol. Nooh Buhumaid and Suhail Ali complete the Emirati car line-up.
Dubai-based German rider Tim Trenker provisionally headed the motorcycle category on his KTM, but had delays in getting his bike ready for the Baja and team mate Mohamed Al-Balooshi will take his place on a KTM. The Emirati use the Qatar opportunity to continue valuable riding practice before he becomes the first Arab rider ever to tackle the gruelling Dakar Rally in January 2012.
Other Emirati riders on the provisional entry list include Obaid Al-Kitbi, Ibrahim Abdullah Bugle and Khalid Al-Falasi. The two-wheel category also features riders from Australia, the UK, Italy, Turkey, Sweden, the USA, Canada and Qatar. Qatar’s Adel Hussein Abdullah (KTM XC) and Australia’s Dennis Nikitopoulos (Yamaha Raptor 700) head the quad entry.
"The entry list has a truly international feel about it and that is a major boost to us as we return to running a Baja of this stature," enthused Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, president of the QMMF.
Administration checks and scrutineering will take place at the QMMF in Doha on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, while the ceremonial start (13.00hrs) and opening 6.5km super special stage (14.00hrs) get proceedings underway at the Sealine Resort on Friday.
Leg two consists of two special stages, starting with the 242km Al-Kharara section at 09.00hrs on Saturday morning and finishing with the 100km Khor Al-Odaid section at 12.45hrs after a mandatory break of 30 minutes. The finish ramp will take place adjacent to the parc ferme area at 15.00hrs.
2011/11/21 | 21:25 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/PERKINS