Citroen Dubai International Rally Preview‏


MERC Middle East Rally Championship 2014-Qatar RallyThe final round of the Middle East Rally Championship will be held this weekend in Dubai.

Currently second in the overall standings, Khalid Al-Qassimi and Chris Patterson (DS3 RRC) will be aiming for the win they need to claim the championship.

Unbeaten this season and having already secured the 2WD and Junior titles in his DS3 R3, Mohamed Al Mutawaa will lead the drivers competing in the Abu Dhabi Racing – Citroën Middle East Trophy.Like every year, the United Arab Emirates is set to host the final round of the 2014 FIA Middle East Rally Championship. Held since the middle of the 1980s, the Dubai International Rally has a course that is quick, technical and very demanding. Located around 70km from the city centre, the stages are contested on sandy roads winding through the desert.

From neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will be competing at his home rally. Winner of the event in 2005 and 2006, the DS3 RRC driver was in determined mood a few days before the start: “Although I haven’t enjoyed a huge amount of success at this rally in the past, I want rise to the challenge and fight for the win. This is almost certainly what I will need to do in order to win the title again.”

MERC champion in 2004, Sheikh Khalid is well-placed to add another title to his competitive record. Currently second in the drivers’ standings, six points behind the leader, he will be champion if he finishes on the top step of podium, regardless of where his rival finishes!

“Last year, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi produced a very good level of performance on these roads,” recalled Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “We have prepared for this event particularly well, with a test session to fine-tune the set-up of the DS3 RRC. We expect there will be a tough battle at the front, but we’ll all be urging Khalid and Chris to try and secure first place!”

Competing under the Abu Dhabi Racing – Citroën Middle East Trophy banner, the four crews entered in DS3 R3s will continue to learn about rallying at this level. Leading the charge, Mohamed Al Mutawaa has already enjoyed a successful season. In addition to three wins in the 2WD category as part of the MERC, the young Emirati also won the WRC3 class at Rally de España. Having already sewn up both titles – 2WD and Junior – he will want to round off the season in style and maintain his unbeaten record. Mohamed Al Sahlawi is expected to be his closest challenger, but the rookies Saeed Bintouq and Mansoor Bel Helei will also be looking to end their year on a positive note.

After Thursday evening’s ceremonial start, held close to Dubai’s World Trade Center, the rally will get underway on Friday morning with a leg featuring six stages. The race will continue on Saturday, with another six timed stages. The finish is scheduled for 4.30pm local time at the World Trade Center.

Middle East Rally Championship standings (after five rounds)

1. Nasser Al Attiyah 75 points

2. Khalid Al Qassimi 69 points

3. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari 66 points

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