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UAE Desert Challenge 2008 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the UAE Desert Challenge 2008, last round of the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

UAE Desert Challenge: Rally sets stage for dramatic FIA showdown.

With a cluster of world titles at stake and a formidable array of rallying talent and machinery arriving from around the globe, next week’s 18th edition of the UAE Desert Challenge could be the most dramatic in the event’s history. The pulsating climax of the international cross-country rally calendar, which is sponsored by Nakheel and Nissan Middle East, has attracted a powerful assembly of more than 160 competitors from 36 countries, event founder Mohammed Ben Sulayem revealed today.

Speaking at the official sponsors’ press conference for the event at Dubai International Marine Club, the rally’s official HQ, Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, said he was as excited as ever about the six-day, 2,197-km spectacle.

Beginning with a super special spectator stage in Jebel Ali next Sunday afternoon, the Desert Challenge is the final round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and trucks, and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes, and a glut of world titles will be decided in the UAE.

"We have a fantastic line-up of drivers and riders from around the world, and this year’s event could be one of the most competitive and exciting that we’ve seen," he said. "It takes a big team effort to make it all happen, and we couldn’t stage it without the great support we receive from our sponsors. We’ve been preparing for this virtually since last year’s rally finished, and can’t wait for it to get under way."

Nakheel, Dubai’s master developer behind iconic projects, such as the Palm trilogy, Waterfront and The World, is supporting the event for a fourth consecutive year.

Rashid Al Yedawi, Events Manager, Nakheel said: "We are delighted to be a major sponsor of the Desert Challenge once again. Nakheel’s projects are transforming the map of Dubai and attracting widespread international attention, so it is fitting to be a annual supporter this event that features a selection of the world’s leading rallying talent, attracts a large global audience, and has played a key part in raising the profile of the UAE as a top global destination."

Nissan Middle East is the event’s other main sponsor, and the Nissan Patrol is the rally’s official car. "We’re proud to be a major sponsor of the UAE Desert Challenge for the fifth straight year," said Hakam Kherallah, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Nissan Middle East. "The gruelling nature of the event is the perfect setting in which to demonstrate the Nissan Patrol’s renowned reputation for durability, quality and reliability."

Covering some of the most demanding and spectacular desert terrain in the Middle East, the event could see the first victory by an Arab driver since 1993. Qatar’s reigning FIA Middle East Rally champion, Nasser Al-Attiyah, wants to emulate the feat of fellow Qatari Saeed Al Hajri 15 years ago. At the same time he can clinch the FIA World Cup drivers’ title, as the three men ahead of him are not contesting the event.

The World Cup production class title will be decided in a battle between two Nissan Patrols, with Kazakhstan’s Artur Ardavichus starting the Desert Challenge holding a four-point lead over Russian Andrey Ivanov. Meanwhile, Lithuania’s Aureijilus Petraitis takes his Oscar into action still holding a mathematical chance of claiming the World Cup Two Wheel Drive Trophy.
Challenge 3

Brilliant Spanish rider Marc Coma must again fight off the challenge of KTM team-mate and four-times Desert Challenge winner Cyril Despres of France if he is to complete a hat-trick of bikes triumphs in the UAE. New regulations this year exclude the powerful KTM works riders from the World Championship, but five FIM world titles will be decided in the UAE

Barring any last round disasters, Poland’s Marek Dabrowski, a regular visitor to the event, will clinch the over 450cc production class crown, while compatriot Jacek Czachor has a clear path to the 450cc production title. But Italian Oscar Polli faces a tense few days as he tries to hold off another Polish rider, Jakub Przygonski, who trails him by just four points in the over 450cc Rally Sport tussle.

The event should become a pleasure cruise to the 450cc Rally Sport title for Spain’s Victor Rivera who has dominated the series this year. But with Brazilian leader Robert Nahas missing the last round, Danish rider Ivan Reedtz-Thott could climb from sixth place to become 2008 world quads champion.

Spectators will have their first chance to inspect the mighty collection of cars, bikes and trucks when competitors assemble at Dubai International Marine Club for scrutineering on Saturday. The action begins on Sunday with a dramatic 2km super special spectator stage built on a new location adjacent to Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa, close to the karting track.

The rally has its ceremonial start from the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi at 9.30am on Sunday, with the first of the competitive special stages then leading away from the capital and finishing at the Moreeb Hill bivouac, near Liwa. The next three days feature special stages stretching out from Moreeb Hill into the Rub Al Khali, or Empty Quarter, before the final two stages lead to the finish at DIMC at 4.30pm on Friday 31st October.

2008/10/25 | 14:23 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Tony Lewis

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