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KMRC set to host round 2 of FIA ME Rally Champ’ship 2014 1st of 13 special stages will be named in memory of late Qatar champ Al-Marri

KUWAIT CITY, March 9: All is set for the Kuwait Quarter Mile Automobile & Motorcycle Club (KMRC) to host the Kuwait International Rally, round two of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship2014 (MERC), which takes place on March 20-22 in the Julai’a circuit in the south of Kuwait City, says Rally Director and clerk of the course Mishari Al Sabti. Speaking to Arab Times, Al-Sabti indicated everything has been put together nicely for the rally’s kickoff with a new super special stage set for Thursday evening at the new Sirbb race circuit and then two legs of gravel special stages on Friday and Saturday. He also revealed the first of the thirteen special stages will be named in memory of Qatar’s Middle East Rally Champion Misfer Al-Marri who passed away on Sunday night in a London hospital after a short illness. Al-Marri was a quiet, unassuming and often shy driver, who was popular with everyone in Middle East Rally arena.


He became the fourth Qatari driver to win the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 2010 with a Subaru Impreza N16. Like Mamdouh Khayat before him in 1992, Misfer clinched the title with consistent driving on all rounds of the series without taking the undue risks needed to secure an outright victory.
Held across traditionally smoother desert surfaces than the opening round in Qatar held recently, the Kuwait International Rally has seen four different drivers earn outright successes in the past six years.
Emirati Khalid Al-Qassimi was victorious in 2010 with Ulster co-driver Michael Orr. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi won the candidate event in 2008 and Qatari Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah secured the first of his three wins the following year. Emirati Khalid Al-Qassimi was victorious in 2010 with Ulster co-driver Michael Orr and Qatar’s Khalid Al-Suwaidi won his only ever MERC event in 2012 with British co-driver Nick Beech. Al-Attiyah was on the top of the podium in 2011 and 2013.


Held under the chairmanship of Sheikh Athbi Nayef Jaber Al-Sabah, this year’s rally will features 13 special stages stretching over 222km of desert terrain in a three-day format and will start with a minute silence in honor of late rally champion Al Marri on Thursday March 20. The rally headquarters will be based at the Seashell Julai’a Hotel and Resort, south of Kuwait City. The pre-event press conference and ceremonial start will take place at the Sirbb Circuit, Kuwait’s newest home of Karting within the confines of the Car Museum in the Shuwaikh Industrial area.
With entry registration closed, reconnaissance of the special stages will be permitted on Tuesday, March 18th and Wednesday, March 19th and scrutineering will take place on Thursday, March 19th. The opening round of the event, held on Nov 8-9, 2013 in Kuwait, was won by Kuwait’s veteran racer Saleh Bin Eidan.


Run in co-operation with the Kuwait International Automobile Club (KIAC), the now traditional second round of the regional series returned to the championship calendar in 2009 after running as a candidate rally the previous year. It was an integral part of the MERC before the first Gulf War in the late 1980s and, thereafter, only ran twice between 1989 and 2007.
Also at the event, there will be a special 30-year anniversary celebration of the of the regional rally series and the first ever Kuwait International Rally to be held as part of the MERC in 1984 and won by Lebanon’s Michel Saleh in a Toyota Celica GT. Saleh has maintained a domineering presence in the championship for 30 years and will take part in the event on this occasion as part of the celebrated anniversary of the MERC. The 1984 runner-up Ahmed Al-Thafiri and third-placed Ali Al-Biramei will also be honoured.

By Iddris Seidu
Arab Times Staff



 

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