What you need to know before the UAE’s longest running sport event enters its 35th episode
Known for several dramatic episodes over the last four decades, the Dubai International Rally promises another fascinating finish to the 2013 FIA Middle East Championship next week.
Taking place from 28-30 November, the 35th Dubai International Rally is endorsed by the office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
The scenario: Nasser Al Attiyah has already clinched the Middle East title in the FIA Championship. Other top rally drivers will be battling to prevent the Qatari from extending his victory run into the sixth and final round. Following Al Attiyah on the participant’s list will be the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, twice a winner in Dubai and this time spearheading a five-car entry by Abu Dhabi Racing. Also looking for a big finish to the season will be Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi, who has a WRC2 victory to his credit in the 2013 World Rally Championship, and Emirati driver Rashid Al Ketbi, another racer who benefits from worldwide exposure this season.
With Qatar’s 2010 Middle East champion Misfer Al Marri, the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, and Jordan’s Ala’a Rasheed also entering powerful regional rally cars, the scene is set for a classic tussle for victory in the 35th Dubai International Rally.
Venue and timings
For a fourth year, the event will be based at Dubai Men’s College, in the Higher Colleges of Technology campus at Academic City, Dubai, which hosts the Rally HQ and service park.
28 November, Thursday: The ceremonial start at Dubai World Trade Centre at 7.30pm before the drivers take to the desert trails.
29 November, Friday: Competitors rip through Al Dhaid to the first loop of three special stages at Zubeidah, Al Falaj near Khadra village, and Showka, prior to a service regrouping. The same stages are repeated in the afternoon.
30 November, Saturday: The second leg features two loops of three stages at Al Dhaid (Police College), Khadra and Meleiha easily accessible from the Sharjah-Kalba Road or the Al Dhaid Road. The survivors will reach the finish at Dubai World Trade Centre at 4.30 pm.
Following previous rounds in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Cyprus, Al Attiyah is aiming for his fifth victory of the season, and his seventh in succession in Dubai, alongside co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in a Ford Fiesta RRC.
Not making it an all-men’s championship will be the Turkish lady driver Burcu Çetinkaya, who returns for her third appearance in Dubai, having finished fifth on her debut in 2011, and eighth in 2012.
Middle East Rally Championship Standings after 5 of 6 rounds
QAT KWT JORD LEB CYP PTS
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) 25 25 25 18 25 118
2. Sh.Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 18 18 15 0 18 69
3. Abdulziz Al-Kuwari (QAT) 15 15 12 0 15 57
4. Roger Feghali (LEB) 0 0 18 25 0 43
5. Sh. Abdulla Al-Qassimi (UAE) 10 10 10 0 0 30
6. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) 8 12 0 0 0 20
7. Misfer Al-Marri (QAT) 0 0 0 6 12 18