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Dubai International Baja gives UAE new place at top of rallying
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 01 - 2017

The Automobile and Touring Club of UAE (ATCUAE) Sunday underlined its plans to establish the new Dubai International Baja as the country's second top flight event in the world of cross country rallying.
Taking place from March 9 to 11 in the Al Qudra desert, the three-day event is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
The 2017 Dubai International Baja is the second round of this year's FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies and the opening round of the FIM Bajas World Cup for bikes and quads.
It effectively creates a spectacular three-event Middle East desert swing for the world's top cross country rally drivers and riders.
The new addition to the World Cup calendar is followed just over two weeks later by the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (April 1-7), already entrenched by the ATCUAE as a premier event in the FIA World Cup series and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship, and Qatar's Sealine Cross Country Rally (April 16-21).
"We're proud to be creating a second world class cross country rally in the UAE and look forward to developing it into one of the top Baja events in the FIA and FIM calendars," said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
"We thank Sheikh Hamdan and the Dubai Ruler's Court for consistently supporting our efforts to develop motor sport events which allow local competitors to share a world stage with the best from around the globe. I also send my personal thanks to FIA President Jean Todt for trusting our capabilities and for his continuous support given to motor sport in the Middle East."
Also supported by Dubai Sport Council, Dubai Police and Dubai Civil Defence, the Dubai International Baja has been added to the FIA World Cup series after the ATCUAE's success in staging an initial candidate event at Bab Al Shams last month.
A report from Richard Schilling, President of FIA World Cross Country Rally Commission and the FIA's official observer at the event, was full of praise for the level of organization by the ATCUAE and the suitability of the Al Quadra desert for a World Cup rally.
The event represents a natural evolution of the Dubai International Rally, which has had a rich 37-year history, and whose illustrious list of winners includes Sulayem (15), Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah (10) and Swedish former world rally champion Björn Waldegård. That event's traditional structure, restricted to rally cars, is replaced by the more desert-friendly Baja format which is also a more cost-effective option and open for buggies, bikes and quads, as well as cars.
"The Dubai International Rally has an indelible place in the history of UAE motor sport and has given me so many great memories over the years as a competitor and organiser," said Sulayem. "Its success provides a powerful platform to launch the Dubai International Baja into a new era for motor sport in the UAE and the Middle East region."
Added Sulayem: "The fact that we now have three world class events taking place in this region in quick succession is a big boost for the sport here as we will be the focus of attention for the cross country rallying world. There are also big benefits for competitors through savings in the cost of participation and transportation of vehicles, and the combined presence of leading manufacturers, sponsors and media will bring a new level of exposure for each of the events, and for the UAE and Qatar as the venues." — SG

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