Khalid aims to lift UAE spirits

DUBAI - Twice former winner Shaikh Khalid Al Qassimi will be out to prevent Qatari drivers from stealing the show when the Dubai International Rally brings the 2010 FIA Middle East Championship to a climax next week.

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Published: Fri 26 Nov 2010, 11:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:04 AM

Qatar’s Misfer Al Marri needs only to finish sixth in the final round of the series to snatch the Middle East crown from fellow countryman Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah who has won the last two championship rounds and has scored victory in Dubai five times in the last seven years. But with the event again taking its traditional slot on UAE National Day weekend, Al Qassimi is in no mood to let the Qataris dominate proceedings. He would love to give the host country a victory to celebrate, and add to his back-to-back Dubai International Rally wins in 2005 and 2006.

While his main focus with Team Abu Dhabi is the World Rally Championship, Al Qassimi has already scored maximum points in two Middle East events this season, in Kuwait and Lebanon, and wants to round of the campaign with a win on home territory.

Partnered by Irish co-driver Michael Orr in a Ford Fiesta, he is joined in the rally line-up by his brother, Shaikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, who leads him by a single point, and currently holds fourth place, in the championship.

Shaikh Abdullah, accompanied by British navigator Steve Lancaster in a Mitsubishi Evolution 9, is in the 25-strong provisional entry list issued today by the rally organisers, the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.

The line-up also includes the UAE’s Rashid Al Ketbi and co-driver Khalid Alkendi in a Skoda Fabia Evolution 2, as well as veteran UAE-based Lebanese driver Michel Saleh who will be partnered by Ziad Masannat in a Mitsubishi Evo 9. Under pressure from the Al Qassimi brothers as he tries to hold on to third place in the championship, Khalid Al-Suwaidi is one of five other Qatari drivers in the line-up, teaming up with Nick Beech in a Subaru Impreza. The other Qatari challengers are Abdulaziz Kuwari, Abdullha Alrabban, Shaikh Hamad Al Thani, and Jabir Al Marri. Essam Al Nejadi, lying joint seventh in the championship, heads a seven-car entry from Kuwait. His fellow countrymen Meshari Al Sabti, Mufeed Mubarak, Mshari Al Thefiri, Mohammad Al Thefiri, Eid Falah and Fahad Ashknani also tackle the event in Mitsubishi Evos.Carrying the Jordanian flag in Dubai will be Mazen Tantash and Carlos Del Barrio in a Subaru Impreza and Ahed Eid with Feras Allowh in a Mitsubishi Evo.

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