Qatar Cross-Country Rally – April 17-22, 2017 – impressive entry
2017 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, round 4/2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, round 2
QMMF’s IMPRESSIVE ENTRY OF WORLD’S LEADING DRIVERS & RIDERS FOR QATAR’S CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY
- Al-Attiyah, Quintanilla and Sonik top car, bike and quad categories in Qatar
- Purpose-built super special stage to kick start action at Losail
DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has announced the strongest ever entry received for Qatar’s fourth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country and round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, taking place on April 17-22.
The entry lists were published on Monday evening and outline a truly quality field of 33 cars, 14 motorcycles and six quads, with competitors from a staggering 26 nations and many of the world’s leading stars taking part. Ten of the car entrants are Priority 1 drivers.
Topping the impressive field of drivers in the car category is the defending FIA World Cup champion and two-time Dakar winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. But the Qatari, who crashed out of a comfortable lead at last week’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, faces fierce competition from a fleet of four X-raid-built Minis, driven by Russian Vladimir Vasilyev, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Poland’s Jakub Przygonski and Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa.
Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, the comfortable leader of this year’s FIA World Cup – after becoming the first Emirati since 1992 to win the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – will make his first appearance at the event. His entry also marks the first time a factory-specification Peugeot has competed in Qatar.
Adding spice to a truly quality field of drivers are the likes of the experienced Czech Miroslav Zapletal, fellow countryman Martin Prokop, former FIA World Cup leader Aron Domzala, South Africa’s Leeroy Poulter and Dutchman Erik van Loon.
Qatar will also be represented by Adel Abdulla, Mohammed Al-Mannai, Mohammed Al-Harqan, Rashid Al-Muhannadi, Khalid Faraj Al-Mohannadi, Abdulla Al-Rabban, Jamal Fakhroo and Mohammed Al-Meer.
Eight of the world’s leading off-road riders, who dominated last week’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, will also be present in Qatar. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team fields Dakar winner and FIM series leader Sam Sunderland, Austria’s Matthias Walkner and Frenchman Antoine Meo.
Pablo Quintanilla and Pierre Alexandre Renet ride the two Rockstar Energy Husqvarnas and Paulo Gonçalves and Kevin Benavides are entered by the Monster Energy Honda team. Emirati Mohammed Al-Balooshi and local rider Ahmed Al-Kuwari represent the GCC region.
Poland’s Rafal Sonik endured a disappointing ride in Abu Dhabi last week, but the Pole head a quad entry that includes Peru’s Alexis Hernandez Ponce, Guatamala’s Rodolfo Schippers and Argentina’s Lucas Innocente.
“We are delighted that all the efforts of staff at the QMMF have been rewarded by such a quality international entry for this year’s Qatar Cross-Country Rally,” QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai. “We have strength in depth across all three categories and some of the world’s top stars in the sport will take part in the rally for the first time.”
The QMMF is also running a National Baja behind the international event. After a drivers’ briefing and the pre-event press conference, competitors will tackle a new 5.54km super special stage in the Losail area next Tuesday (April 18). The purpose-built super special has been designed within the confines of the Losail motocross premises and offers free access to spectators.
The first of four selective sections (334.08km) through the desert gets underway on April 19 and is followed by three further stages on April 20, April 21 and April 22. They will run for 353.02km, 337.76km and 343.32km, respectively. In a route of 1,994.17km, the QMMF has laid on 1,373.82km against the clock.