March 26, 2016 – A record sixth victory in the Kuwait International Rally was never really in doubt for Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. The 11-time FIA Middle East rally champion won all the 13 timed special stages at the second round of the regional series and reached the finish in Fintas on Saturday afternoon with a winning margin of 11min 24.9sec.
He and French navigator Matthieu Baumel controlled their pace at the three-day rally from start-to-finish to deliver yet another faultless team performance, a record 62nd MERC rally win for the driver and an 11th for his navigator.
Newly-crowned Kuwaiti national champion Meshari Al-Thefiri, whose father Ahmed won the event before it became a round of the series way back in 1981, capped a memorable weekend with second overall and outright victory in the hard-fought MERC 2 category in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. His winning margin was 1min 28.2sec.
Partnered by Qatar’s Nasser Al-Kuwari on this occasion, he became only the second Kuwaiti in MERC history to reach the podium and the first to record a second-placed finish – the Kuwaiti duo of Mufeed Mubarak and Saad Al-Melaifi finished third in the MERC category at the Jordan WRC Rally in 2011.
Qatar’s Rashed Al-Nuami and Italian navigator Nicola Arena struggled with the loss of third gear on their Subaru Impreza for two stages and retired from third position with ongoing gearbox issues with one stage to go, although they maintained the unofficial MERC 2 championship advantage after two rounds.
Yigit Timur lost his way in one stage for a time in a Tok Sport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, but he and co-driver Ufuk Ulocak benefited from Al-Nuami’s misfortune to confirm third place and the runner-up spot in MERC 2. The winner’s brother Khalifa Al-Attiyah and Cypriot navigator Savvas Laos finished the event in fourth
The Lebanese duo of Rodolphe Asmar and experienced co-driver Joseph Matar, who climbed on the podium in the previous round in Qatar, were fifth overall and fourth in Group N, but a two-minute penalty saw them slip to seventh overall and fifth in Group N.