|Sealine Rally Qatar: QMMF prepares to host it´s largest Offroad event ever.|
The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) is preparing to host its largest ever off-road motor sport event this week. The Sealine Cross-Country Rally will take place over five days in the Qatar desert, with the action centralised around a large bivouac and service park, near the Sealine Beach Resort, south of Doha.
The world’s leading drivers and riders in both the FIM and FIA Cross-Country Rally World Championships have been attending pre-event administration checks at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Qatar’s Adel Hussein Abdullah won the quad category at the Qatar Baja candidate event last November and is relishing this week’s challenge. "It’s fantastic that we have this event in Qatar and so many big names on the entry list," enthused the KTM 525 quad rider. "It is going to be a great challenge for me to win again this week but I will do my best."
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah arrived back in Qatar after a disappointing outing in the Kuwait International Rally at the weekend. An engine failure ruined his chances of success in a Peugeot 207, but the defending FIA Middle East rally champion is determined to defend his Qatar Baja title after piecing together a late deal to drive a Toyota Hilux.
"I couldn’t really miss my home event, especially as it is now in the FIA World Cup and has attracted so many top drivers," said Al-Attiyah, who is seeded at three for the Sealine event behind Jean-Louis Schlesser and Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei.
"It will not be easy. Jean-Louis has made a good start to his bid to win the World Cup again, Khalifa has shown good speed since his return to racing and Yazeed (Al-Rajhi) won the recent rally in Saudi Arabia and is full of confidence."
Schlesser, driving a Team Sonangol Buggy, leads the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies by 24 points after the opening two rounds in Italy and the UAE. The two-time Dakar winner (72 points) is the most experienced of the racers on the entry list, but knows that a good result for Al-Mutaiwei (48 points) would completely change the championship points’ situation.
Russia’s Vladimir Vasilyev lies joint third overall at the wheel of his G-Force Proto with the UAE’s Yayha Al-Helai - 14 points behind Al-Mutaiwei - and Frenchman Patrick Sireyjol is fifth, a further two points adrift. All five of the leading title contenders are present at the Sealine Cross-Country Rally.
Today (Monday) leading riders and drivers will join Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, president of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), at the official pre-event press conference for the Sealine Cross-Country Rally at noon.
This will follow a press conference involving the QMMF president and two representatives of the Sealine Beach Resort, scheduled to start at 11.30hrs. Entrants will then head to the Corniche in Doha for the ceremonial start, with the first motorcycle set to cross the podium at 15.00hrs.
The new Sealine Cross-Country Rally is the most ambitious off-road event ever staged by the QMMF. Over four punishing special stages between Wednesday and Saturday, motorcycle, car and quad teams will tackle a total of 1,227.64km of varied competitive action in a compact route of 1,323.23km.
The on-stage competition gets underway for the motorcycles and quads with a 4.2km timed super special stage, near the Sealine Beach Resort, at 13.00hrs on Tuesday (April 17th). The first car will tackle the special from 13.40hrs.
2012/04/16 | 19:06 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/PERKINS