DOHA (Qatar): The Manateq Qatar International Rally will kick start the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 2019 and has moved back to a traditional date at the start of the season and will open the series on March 14-16.
The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has also announced that the event’s rally headquarters and service park will remain at Lusail Sports Arena but the pre-event press conference, ceremonial start and prize giving ceremony will move to an exciting new location at Al-Wakra, south of Doha.
The ceremonial start will take place on the beach in front of the Souq Al-Wakra Hotel on Thursday, March 14th and this venue will also host the prize giving ceremony and start and finish media facilities.
The competitive action will then take centre stage on a series of timed gravel surface specials through the Qatar deserts on Friday, March 15th and Saturday March 16th.
The QMMF is also supplying free shipping on the Oman-Doha-Oman and Kuwait-Doha-Kuwait routes and five nights accommodation for the driver and co-driver as a generous concession to competitors. Teams have been invited to the event from Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and several European countries.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is currently competing on the Dakar Rally in Peru, but he has dominated the Qatar event in recent seasons and has taken 13 victories in 17 years.
The multiple regional champion missed out last November, however, with a surprise win falling to Czech driver Vojtĕch Štajf. He became the first non-Arab driver to win the event since the late Björn Waldegård’s success with co-driver Fred Gallagher in a Toyota Celica Turbo way back in 1986.
The Qatari duo of Abdullah and Nasser Al-Kuwari won the MERC 2 category in Qatar in 2018 and regional MERC 3 champions, Henry Kahy and Musa Djiyerian, wrapped up an excellent season with two-wheel drive honours in their Škoda Fabia 1.6
This year’s rally will be held under the chairmanship of QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai and senior committee members. Portugal’s Pedro Almeida will act as Rally Director and is working alongside Qatari Clerk of the Course Rashed Al-Sulaiti.
The event last visited the Al-Wakra area in 2012: the Al-Wakra stadium hosted rally headquarters and the QMMF ran stages in the south of the country and to the west of Doha.
Regulations will be open shortly and entries will open in due course.
For further information about the 2019 Manateq Qatar International Rally, contact the Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation (QMMF), PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 443 79885, Fax: + 974 443 79732, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www.qmmf.com