250,000 witnessed Pitbull exceptional concert in Riyadh Season 2021 opening    Dazzling shows hold Riyadh spellbound as Season 2 festivities kick off in style GEA Chief Al-Sheikh: Citizen's ambitions rise high under inspiring leadership    Russia urges Taliban not to use Afghanistan's territory against other countries    Saudi Arabia to introduce electronic passport soon    Bollywood superstar's son denied bail in drugs case    KSA, Kuwait, UAE welcome Bahrain govt efforts in implementing Fiscal Balance Program    Olympic flame arrives in China for Beijing 2022 Winter Games    Al-Falih begins US visit, highlights new investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia    Business leaders join UN chief to step up action for sustainability    Build consensus or face desperate reality, UN Middle East envoy warns    Global investment flows rebound, but highly uneven: UNCTAD    General admission tickets on sale now for F1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021    UNESCO, Al-Fozan Foundation create new prize to encourage young scientists    Three million in urgent need of life-saving assistance, protection in Myanmar    Al-Hilal reaches AFC final again    World eagerly anticipates launch of Riyadh Season 2021 in Saudi capital    Cristiano Ronaldo    Jeddah Old Town to be home for Red Sea International Film Festival    REDTAG launches Winter Collection endorsed by Myriam Fares, inspired by a world reawakening to endless discovery    Football star Didier Drogba signs with WHO as new Goodwill Ambassador    Acclaimed Spanish female crime writer revealed to be three men    Saudis, expats mourn death of prominent Filipino preacher in Riyadh    Bollywood actor Sidharth Shukla dies at 40    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Directs KSrelief to Urgently Provide Malaysia with Medical, Preventive Equipment and Supplies to Address COVID-19 Pandemic    Weather Forecast for Sunday    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Congratulates President of Maldives on Independence Day    RSNF Commander Patronizes Ceremonial Launching of His Majesty's Ship "Jazan"    OIC Condemns Houthi Attempts to Target Civilians in Saudi Arabia    Philippines evacuates thousands as monsoon rains flood cities, provinces    Heavy rain in India triggers floods, landslides; at least 125 dead    U.S. Records 64,321 New Infections of Coronavirus    Without Fans, Tokyo Olympics Kicked Off    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Saudi Arabia's Pick to Chair IsDB Group for the next five years, unanimously approved by BoG Committee of Procedures    Saudi Press: Fitch affirms Saudi Credit Rating at "A" with a revised outlook to stable from negative    Handled Cargo at Saudi Ports Increases during June 2021    SDAIA, DARP & STC Launch Pilgrim's Smart Bracelet (NUSK)    Tabuk sculptor spends 8 years in carving entire Holy Qur'an on 30 marble slabs    2 Goals by Diaz Gives Colombia 3rd Place at Copa America    Saudi Cinema Night at Arab World Institute in Paris Kicks Off    KSU Leads Joint International Scientific Project for Early Detection of Breast Cancer    Saudi Arabia to Participate in Cannes Film Festival 2021    Arab Cup U-17 Championship Draw Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Palestine, Kuwait, in the 1st Group    AWI Hosts Saudi Cinema Nights in Paris    Brazil Beats Chile at Copa America Despite 2nd-Half Red Card    Council of Senior Scholars: Muslim Brothers' Group Don't Represent Method of Islam, rather only Follows its Partisan Objectives, Violating our Graceful Religion    Eid Al-Adha Prayer Performed at the Grand Holy Mosque    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers in Arafat Holy Site    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Al-Attiyah, Meeke top entry for Qatar International Rally
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 19 - 01 - 2021

Defending FIA Middle East rally champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and WRC star Kris Meeke are the top seeds on an international 18-car entry with competitors from nine nations (subject to FIA approval) announced by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) for next week's Qatar International Rally.
The opening round of the 2021 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) will go ahead under the strict COVID-19 protocols in force in Qatar and has also moved forward by one day in the calendar. The start ceremony will now be held at Katara on Friday evening (Jan. 29), followed by two days of gravel action in the Qatar deserts on Jan. 30-31.
Both Al-Attiyah and Meeke endured different fortunes at the recent Dakar Rally and will both be looking to bounce back to winning ways in Qatar. Al-Attiyah teams up with French navigator Matthieu Baumel to drive his usual Autotek Motorsport-run Volkswagen Golf GTi R5, while Meeke and navigator Sebastian Marshall will tackle their first ever round of the MERC in a Škoda Fabia R5.
Al-Attiyah will be aiming for a record-breaking 15th win on his home event and a staggering 76th career MERC success. A series of punctures cost the Qatari the possible chance of winning the Dakar Rally last week and he had to settle for second place in the overall standings.
Meeke drove a PH Sport Zephyr in the T3 category for lightweight prototype vehicles at the Dakar Rally and won the Prologue and final stage during a fraught debut in the dunes, where numerous niggles and technical issues cost him many hours and numerous time penalties. He eventually reached the finish in 41st overall in the SSV section.
But Meeke's speed and competitiveness in traditional special stage rallies is far more impressive and Al-Attiyah will be hard pushed by the Ulsterman over the desert special stages in Qatar.
Meeke is a former winner of five WRC rallies between 2015 and 2017 and also won a similar number of rounds of the International Rally Challenge (IRC) in 2009 and 2010. His most recent successes came at the contrasting WRC rounds in Mexico and Spain in 2017, but he left the WRC scene in November 2019 after a season with the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team.
"After my first experience of the Dakar, I am now looking forward to taking part in a traditional special stage rally in the desert," said Meeke. "I've wanted to take part in one of these rallies for a long time and to compete against Nasser and the Middle East drivers will be a new challenge for me and Seb.
"The terrain will be new to us and I hear that we will need to be careful to avoid punctures. But we are both looking forward to this new and exciting challenge."
Seven R5s grace the impressive field for the regional series opener with the likes of Qatar's Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya, Sheikh Suhaim Al-Thani and Khalid Al-Suwaidi and Oman's Abdullah Al-Rawahi also likely to be challenging for a podium finish.
Eight teams will challenge for honors in the MERC 2 Championship in a range of Mitsubishis and Subarus entered in the NR4 group.
Defending champion Meshari Al-Thefiri leads the field in his bid to retain the regional showroom category title and faces competition from fellow Kuwaiti Jassim Al-Muqahwi, Oman's Zakariya Al-Amri and Zakariya Al-Aufi, Lebanon's Shadi Al-Fakih and Ahmad Khaled and local drivers Rashid Al-Mohannadi and Mohammed Al-Attiyah.
Lebanon's Henry Kahy will again be looking to try and win the MERC 3 title in his two-wheel drive Škoda Fabia.
Qatar's Khalid Al-Mohannadi and Lebanon's Jad Al-Aawar have taken advantage of the ruling permitting the use of FIA-homologated T4 vehicles on regional MERC gravel rallies and will tackle the event in their respective Polaris and Can-Am Maverick X3, subject of course to FIA technical scrutineering.
The QMMF will also run a national event behind the main MERC rally. Qatar's Ahmed Allouh and Ahmed Al-Mohannadi are two names to feature on the draft list.
This year's rally will be held under the chairmanship of QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, senior committee member Abdulrazaq Al-Kuwari and the QMMF's Executive Director Amro Al-Hamad. — SG

Clic here to read the story from its source.