Twice Dakar winner Roma set for Sealine Challenge
Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar – April 18-24, 2015
2015 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 3
2015 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, round 2
TWO-TIME DAKAR WINNER IN FACTORY MINI ALL4 RACING
· QMMF gains FIA waiver to make route navigation more challenging
· Entries close for Sealine Cross-Country Rally on Thursday, April 2
DOHA (Qatar): There is just over a week to go before entries officially close for this year’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally, the third round of the 2015 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, which will take place on April 18-24.
Officials at the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) have received interest from across the world from teams keen to face the challenges of five gruelling selective sections across the Qatar desert.
Two-time Dakar Rally winner Joan ‘Nani’ Roma is the latest addition to the list of entrants already received for the Sealine event, which gets underway from the Losail International Circuit on Monday, April 20.
Roma, 43, won the Dakar Rally on a factory KTM motorcycle in 2004 and followed in the foot steps of the French duo of Hubert Auriol and Stéphane Peterhansel to repeat his winning feat in a car – a Mini All4 Racing – in 2014. The Spaniard has yet to announce his co-driver for this year’s Sealine event, although Frenchman Michel Périn has been his regular navigator in recent years.
Roma began his enduro racing career as early as 1991 by finishing second in the 125cc category of the Spanish Junior Cross-Country Championship. He graduated to the senior European series the following season and went on to win a sequence of gold and bronze medals at the prestigious International Six Days Enduro (ISDE). He first competed in the Dakar Rally in 1996 and began to carve out a career on two wheels in cross-country rallying, initially with the BMW team and then with KTM.
Roma’s first taste of rallying in a car was in the 2004 Qatar Baja at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero MPR9 with the late Henri Magne as his co-driver. He finished second that time out behind Al-Attiyah’s Chevrolet Pro Truck and went on to finish third, second and fourth in the Dakar Rally before his victory in 2014.
The German X-raid team that runs factory and customer Mini All4 Racings won the Sealine Cross-Country Rally last year with Qatar’s leading driver Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and has entered a strong driver line-up this year.
One notable addition to the X-raid customer line up will be the young Briton Harry Hunt, who is also set to tackle the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge this coming weekend with the experienced German navigator Andreas Schulz. Hunt has made the switch from more conventional special stage rallying – where he won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) 2WD Cup for the second time in 2012 – and will compete in Qatar for the first time.
The QMMF continues to make ground-breaking improvements within the organisation of the Sealine event and the federation has been granted an FIA waiver for sporting and environmental reasons in connection to the way that competitors navigate their way across the selective sections through the desert.
“To validate any route waypoint, a competitor must pass within 90 metres of it this year,” said clerk of the course Pedro Almeida. “In the current FIA regulations, to validate a WPE (eclipse waypoint) or a WPM (hidden waypoint), which represents 95% of the waypoints at the Sealine event, a competitor must pass within 200 metres of it.
“This means in the regulations for our event this year, validating waypoints becomes a more accurate task for co-drivers and makes it more difficult for drivers, especially in sand dunes and difficult terrain.”
Entries close on Thursday, April 2. Full details on costs and concessions are available at http://www.qmmf.com.