Rally: Local heroes looking to shine in this weekends Kuwait International Rally

Rally: Local heroes looking to shine in this weekends Kuwait International Rally
Meshari Al-Thafiri will be hoping to win the NR4 class in his home event this weekend.

Meshari Al-Thafiri will be hoping to win the NR4 class in his home event this weekend.

Kuwait, March 23rd, 2016-World rallying is synonymous with noise, power, cars sliding sideways and dust and gravel being showered over spectators by a leading group of drivers entered in state-of-the-art World Rally Cars and Regional Rally Cars.

That is not always the case on FIA sanctioned events around the world. Although this weekend’s Kuwait International Rally features some of the region’s top stars at the wheel of R5 rally cars that tick all those boxes, there are a group of unsung heroes competing further down the entry list in cars that are as close as you can get to the saloon you would take to the retail park on a weekend.

The entry list announced by the Basil Salem Al-Sabah Motor Racing Club (BMRC) for the second round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) features an impressive line-up of Mitsubishi Lancers and Subaru Imprezas entered in the NR4 class for Group N or ‘showroom’ cars.

Meshari Al-Thafiri currently leads the Kuwait national championship in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and has the experience and knowledge of the local deserts to give him and Qatari navigator Nasser Al-Kuwari a superb chance to win the NR4 class. A former runner-up to Nicolai Georgiou in the Pirelli Star Driver competition, Al-Thafiri is enjoying a useful run of form and would like nothing better than to win the international rally on his home stages.

It will not be easy for the Kuwaiti, however; he faces a strong trio of experienced Qatari drivers. Abdullah Al-Kuwari lines up with Adel Abdullah Hussein in a similar car. Hussein arrives fresh from taking fifth place in the recent Ha’il Nissan International Rally in Saudi Arabia with Ahmed Al-Sabban and the pair is focused on the win.

Top seed Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah’s brother Khalifa drives a Subaru Impreza with Cypriot navigator Savvas Laos and Rashid Al-Naimi and Italian co-driver Nicola Arena round off the three-pronged Qatari line-up in the NR4 class.

Al-Thafiri will have plenty of support in Kuwait though. Rallying is as popular as ever in the Northern Gulf and Jassim Al-Muqahwi and Salem Abdullah will be hoping for a strong finish in a slightly older version of the trusty Mitsubishi Lancer. Al-Thafiri’s brother Mohammed also features among the local drivers alongside Saleh Ali, Elie Chachati and young Sheikh Jaber Al-Sabah.

No driver has more experience than Lebanon’s Michel Saleh. Present in regional rallying even before the MERC began in 1984, Saleh returns to one of his favourite events with close friend and long time navigator Ahmed Ghaziri. He certainly has the determination to match the youngsters and will be hoping for car reliability if he is to make a sensational return to the top step of the NR4 class podium this week.

Other drivers are somewhat of unknown quantities in the region, with the exception of German lady driver Edith Weiss, who competes under a Qatar licence.

The NR4 entry list features Iranian drivers Hassan Akbarnejadbaei and Laleh Seddigh in a pair of Mitsubishis and the Turkish duo of Yigit Timur and Vedat Diker in later specification Mitsubishis.

Saudi Arabian Rakan Al-Rashed may be a name to watch in the future. He has been receiving support from Finland, the traditional former home of WRC rallying greats, and will be co-driven in Kuwait by Jarkko Kalliolepo. The Finn has considerable experience in European and WRC rallying with the likes of Jarkko Nikara, Jukka Hiltunen and Jussi Vällimäki. Kalliolepo retired from the recent Arctic Rally with suspension issues while sitting alongside Nikara.

Talented young Lebanese driver Rodolphe Asmar is also a star in the making and teams up with five-time Rally of Lebanon-winning navigator Joseph Matar in another Mitsubishi.

Competitors start their two-day reconnaissance of the special stages on Tuesday morning (tomorrow). It is a chance for each crew to make their own pace notes and find out the pitfalls and potential problem areas on each stage before the official start and the opening timed super special at the Sirbb circuit on Thursday, March 24.

The event is being held under the chairmanship of Sheikh Athbi Nayef Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in conjunction with the General Authority for Sport.

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10 hrs ago


Throwing it back to the #Moto2 race of the #BritishGP 2012 🇬🇧

Enjoy the last laps battle for the 2nd place between Marquez and Redding! ⚔️

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I was there.....Brilliant racing!!

Very drunk day but remember the race. Loved watching Scott race. All packed and ready for Silverstone Thursday morning.

Fantastic battle 👍

I was there, great finish. Home crowd went wild when Redding got back in front, then deadly silent when Marquez had a look up inside on last bend, then wild again when Redding cut back across. Amazing stuff!

Very nice

Very nice

All these guys are big talents. Many riders like Pol Espargaro, Alvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith, Antony West & many more are great riders and capable of winning championships ( capable ). People underestimate these guys by their bad results, but really..top material is key in these classes, especially in the MotoGp class. Give them a solid ride and they'll blow your mind

Redding never got the ride he deserved.

Great performance by Pol & Scott at the end💪🏼..that was a cracker💥..

Redding and Iannone can beat Marquez they just don't get competitive bikes

2019, #93 is the winner..😋🏁

special suter chassis for marc and mysterious team 😉 after marc step up to motogp, this team directly disappear, nobody know where are they now.

however Mac Marquez with his current performance does not have to be Marquez's best

Just shows how good Redding was but never really got the bike to really take it to them in Motogp.

Very cool video MotoGP. More like this one please!!!

Man, I miss Scott Redding in the padock "let's get it babi"

Muy buena carrera no apta para cardíacos 🤭🤭🤭

Luthi is moto2 governor.. 🤣🤣🤣

Forget just how good Redding could have been with a decent bike

now whrs redding? gone?

Nice to see maq battle for other place than 1st

Kaj mu je pa SCOTT REDDING naredil,šale in kape.😀

Bring back Redding

duel one on one in the final lap marquez lose .....

Joe Barker a fond memory. Can’t believe how empty it looks!

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12 hrs ago


The dramatic moment which cost Marc Márquez a shot at victory at Silverstone two years ago! 😱

The world champion's misfortune opened the door for Andrea Dovizioso to snatch the win! 💨

#BritishGP 🇬🇧
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Good Day all.

Encore! Encore! Do it again!

Unlikely to be repeated! Hope Dovi brings his A game though. 👍🏼👍🏼

Gave the rest a chance

So what's new?? Sometimes these kind of technical failures happens in Motorsport... Very rare that engine blow sky high to premier class bike.

I love coming here and waiting for all the Yellow gob smokers.

I thought "the legend" was gonna win that day.. 😅

Was at this race, and that bike blowing up was almost as good as a Rossi win 😀

RAre footage for sure

Honda's bike today is reliable so this might not happen again.

Ah, I could watch that Honda blow up all day every day...

Alex Groenewold finger cross 😅👍.. voor komend weekend

#MM93 Come Back STRONGER! 💪💪💪😎👍👍👍

Fast forward >>>> he is the world champion!!



And finaly , the boss MM93 won the title one more time

Saya Mie Halim moh top fan sama sama

Nothing can stop him not even a broken bike ! Simply the king of MotoGP !

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15 hrs ago


Cue the celebrations, Bob! 🍾👏 ... See Less

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( •_•) ( >💎 oh! Preciosa insignia! /︶\

Must be an awesome feeling..I certainly Would love to work with f1 even if it was to clean a window.

Nice. Long time lots of great words over the years

Awesome to get behind the scenes!

I love the voice of that guy

Cheers to the great Bob!!!

Amazing. I remember this voice. Thanks.

More than 660 wow ! I mean that’s amazingly nice, being with the next generation sharing your experience & catching something new from them it’s a nice way. Good going Bob keep it up & don’t forget to change the baton when you still can... 👍

Bobs Brilliant we love Bob in our house 👍🏻

Love these little insights into the F1 community 👍

It’s nice to now be able to put a name/face to the voice. Keep up the good work Bob. 🎤 🔈

Amazing with the “carmen opera” music

Awesome to put the face to the voice.

Hey I’m a top fan again, but it is really cool to put a face to the voice. I never really thought about it till I saw this

Big respect for Bob cheers 🍾🍾

I now have proof of what he does when he goes away. He is my legend

I should celebrate with champagne too after being promoted to top fan for god knows what reason 😂

Finally we get to see the man! 🙌🏻

I always wondered who did the podium announcements and if it was done locally or in England. 👍

Thanks for the Top Fan position!

Never seen the man behind the legendary announcements !

Wait, what if he is the meow guy! 😆

Always wondered who did the podium announcements and now we can put a face to the voice

660 races and counting .....give Bob some champaaaaaaaagne!! 🍾🍾

The unsung hero of F1 😁😂🍾

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