DOHA (Qatar): Officials at the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) have announced initial plans for this year’s Qatar Cross-Country Rally (QCCR), round four of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup and round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. The event takes place over five stages on April 17-22.
The QCCR will run over a short super special stage and four gruelling selective sections through the Qatar deserts for a second successive season, although the loss of one day in the desert is more than replaced by the demands of the event’s renowned navigation and punishing road book.
“The QCCR is one of very few events where the motorcycles, quads and cars tackle the same route,” said Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, QMMF President and Chairman of the organising committee. “This year we will have five days of racing over a challenging new route of around 1,395km. The event has a reputation as being one of the most difficult in the calendar and a real test of navigation for the riders and co-drivers.”
Rally headquarters and the media centre will be based at the Losail international circuit for a third year and there will be a new ceremonial start in Doha from 20.00hrs on Tuesday, April 17.
After the pre-event press conference and the drivers’ briefing, competitors will tackle a super special stage of 4.5km at Losail from 16.15hrs on Wednesday, April 18.
The first of four selective sections through the desert gets underway on April 19 and is followed by three further sections on April 20, April 21 and April 22 – each of around 350km. In a total route of 1,970.65km, 1,395.24km will be against the clock.
Khalid Al-Remaihi and Sultan Zaher Al-Muraikhi are senior members of the organising committee, while Portugal’s Pedro Almeida and Erick Nevels work as Clerks of the Course for the respective FIA and FIM events, with Rashed Al-Sulaiti acting as Almeida’s deputy and Frenchman Franck Vayssié taking the role of Event Manager for a second year.
Qatar’s premier cross-country event developed from the Qatar International Baja that ran as a candidate rally in 2011 and was won by Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah at the wheel of a SAM Mercedes 35CC. Australia’s Justin Taylor and local rider Adel Hussein won the motorcycle and quad categories.
This will be the seventh event of its kind in both the FIA and FIM series’. Al-Attiyah claimed further wins in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 in Toyotas and Minis, while two-time Dakar winner and Africa Eco Race organiser Jean-Louis Schlesser was victorious in 2013.
Five-time Dakar winner Marc Coma now works as the Dakar’s Sporting Director and the Spaniard dominated the motorcycle category with his KTM in 2012, 2013 and 2015, with Honda’s Joan-Barreda Bort winning in 2014 and 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland claiming wins in Qatar for the last two years.
Poland’s Rafal Sonik won the quad event on a Honda TRX 700 in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa was victorious in 2014 and Chile’s Ignacio Casale claimed the win in 2016.
Entries open on Thursday (February 15) and the closing date at reduced rates will be Thursday, March 15, with the final cut-off planned for Thursday, April 5.
The QMMF will provide complimentary accommodation for GCC participants in Doha on April 16-18 and to all competitors on April 17-18. Visas for competitors will be included in entry fees.
Regulations and entry forms will be available for download on Thursday from www.qmmf.com. For further information about the 2018 Qatar Cross-Country Rally, contact Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation (QMMF), Losail Circuit, PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 443 79885, Fax: + 974 443 79732, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www.qmmf.com