Rally: Top drivers arrive in Kuwait ahead of second MERC round
Monday, March 17th, 2014-JULIA’A (Kuwait): The Middle East’s top rally drivers have now arrived in the State of Kuwait and will begin their policed reconnaissance of the 13 timed special stages that make up the challenging route for this weekend’s Kuwait International Rally, round two of the 2014 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
Organised by the Kuwait Quarter Mile Auto & Motorcycle Club (KMRC), under the chairmanship of Sheikh Athbi Nayef Jaber Al-Sabah, the event gets underway with a timed super special stage at the Sirbb circuit at 18.00hrs on Thursday evening (March 20th) and finishes on Saturday afternoon.
Twenty-four teams appear on the provisional entry list, with the defending regional champion and three-time event winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah of Qatar topping the field with Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in a Ford Fiesta RRC. The Qatari won the opening round in Doha and has a seven-point lead in the series.
The entry list includes competitors from 10 countries: Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, France and Greece.
The leading Kuwaiti driver, seeded at five on the entry list, is Salah bin Eidan, while Meshari Al-Thafiri – the early leader of the Group N championship category after round one in Qatar – is seeded at nine.
Other Kuwaiti drivers on the entry list for an event that also counts towards the local rally series are Essam Al-Nejadi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX), Salem Ali (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII), Dawood Al-Gharabally (Subaru Impreza), Eid Al-Fazran, Elie Chachati (Subaru Impreza) and Abdulla Al-Ansari (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII).
“The entry has strength in depth and all the championship front-runners from around the Middle East,” enthused clerk of the course Meshari Al-Sabti. “Kuwait is also well supported with eight drivers and six co-drivers.”
Crews will tackle two legs of six desert stages on Friday and Saturday and a total of 222.10 competitive kilometres. Reconnaissance of the stages will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday. Teams will then attend technical scrutineering checks on Thursday morning, prior to the official pre-event press conference at 15.30hrs at the Sirbb circuit.
The event is based at the Seashell Julai’a Hotel and Resort, south of Kuwait City.