Qatar’s Abdulaziz al-Kuwari had won the candidate event in 2014. (Right) QMMF president and FIA vice president Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah.
The Oman Automobile Association (OAA) has announced the provisional entry list for the 2015 Oman International Rally, round seven of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
Oman’s return to regional rallying has attracted 20 entries, with Qatar’s Abdulaziz al-Kuwari and Khalid al-Suwaidi in the line-up.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah has already bagged this year’s MERC title after winning the Jordan Rally earlier this month.
The title was one of four al-Attiyah has won this year, with Dakar Rally, FIA Cross Country World Cup and WRC2 being the other three.
The host nation is also well represented with 10 entrants. Khalid al-Manji and his navigator Saif al-Aisri lead the Omani crews in their Subaru Impreza. Other local drivers include Saif al-Harthy of the OVT Rally Team, Zakariya al-Ofi, Faisal al-Rashdi, Humaid al-Waili, Hamid al-Qasmi, Haitham al-Zadjali, Zakariya Said, Ahmed Qassim al-Zadjali and Ehab al-Zadali.
The Kuwaiti duo of Meshari al-Thafiri and Salah Bin Eidan, Germany’s Edith Weiss and Qatar’s Rashid al-Naimi are vying for Group N Championship points, while Abu Dhabi Racing has also entered a pair of two-wheel drive Citroen DS3 R3s for the Emirati drivers, Saeed Bintowq and Mansoor Bel Helai.
“We are delighted to see so many local teams on the entry list for our return to the FIA Middle East Rally Championship,” enthused Suleiman bin Abdullah al-Rawahi, event director of the Oman International Rally. “We have strength in depth on the entry list and we are sure that the competitors will enjoy the challenging terrain and special stages that make the Oman Rally so popular and so demanding.”
The event will be based at the Oman Automobile Association’s headquarters at Airport Heights, near Muscat. The ceremonial start takes place at the Muscat Wave from 6pm on Thursday, November 5 and precedes the opening super special stage at 6.45pm. Six timed tests will then take place on both Friday and Saturday.
Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) president and FIA vice president Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah was all praise for the Oman rally organisers.
“I would like to congratulate Oman for the sincere efforts put in by Oman Automobile Association. They have shown Oman’s capabilities as a host country and as a real supporter for motorsport at both local and international levels. The Omani Automobile association, headed by chairman General Salim al-Maskiry, and the crew are experienced enough,” he said.
Oman had recently hosted many FIA-certified training courses, especially those related to safety aspects in addition to the organisational aspect which raised the experience level of the Omani youth interested in motorsport.
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