Rally: Five new challenging desert sections for QMMF Sealine Cross-Country Rally

Sam Sunderland on his factory KTM at the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

DOHA (Qatar): With less than a week to go before the start of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, a round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championships, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has announced final route details of the most ambitious event of its kind ever to be staged in the State of Qatar. The rally takes place from April 19-25.

The world’s leading bikers and drivers, many of whom competed in last week’s gruelling Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, will tackle five demanding selective sections across the Qatar desert. In a compact total route of 1,912.95km, 90.94% (1,739.55km) will be competitive.

Motorcycles, cars and quads, including last week’s winners of the respective categories – Paolo Goncalves, Vladimir Vasilyev and Rafal Sonik – will tackle similar stages, starting with a 164.18km section on Monday, April 21st, which winds its way from the Losail circuit in the north of Qatar to a finish near the Sealine bivouac to the south of Doha.

QMMF officials have introduced a 396.46km second section for Tuesday, April 22nd and that includes a wide variety of sandy and rocky terrain and requires precise navigational skills.

There is no respite and the third loop around Sealine on Wednesday, April 23rd includes a daunting competitive section of 411.76km. The penultimate desert section on Thursday, April 24th runs for 404.18km and the final stage on Friday, April 25th offers 362.97 competitive kilometres.

“We have taken on board all the feedback from competitors over the last couple of years and I am delighted to announce a challenging and extended route this year,” said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, president of the QMMF and FIA vice-president for sport MENA.

“We were delighted with the positive response from competitors in 2013, particularly in terms of comments about the quality of the road book, the navigational challenge and the variety of terrain and we are all looking forward to staging the event again this year.”

Administrative checks and scrutineering will take place at the Losail circuit on Saturday, April 19th and Sunday, April 20th. The final entry lists in all categories will be officially released at 5pm today.

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