MERC A FULL 2014
CITROËN AND ABU DHABI RACING EXTEND THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN MERC
20 February 2014
citroen-mercThe FIA Middle East Rally Championship celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. The 2014 season kicks off this weekend with the Qatar International Rally.
Among the leading contenders, Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson will be competing in the DS3 RRC of the Abu Dhabi Citroën World Rally Team.
Competing in the “two-wheel drive” category, five Citroën DS3 R3s have been entered for drivers from the Abu Dhabi Racing-Citroën Middle East Trophy, the driver development programme set up by Abu Dhabi Racing.
Created in 1984, the Middle East Rally Championship has supported the emergence of motorsport in the Arabian Peninsula. In this, its thirtieth year, the championship features six rounds, starting with the Qatar International Rally.
An ever-present on the MERC calendar since it started, the rally gets underway on Thursday evening with a super special stage held on Doha’s Corniche. On Friday and Saturday, the crews will head into the Qatari desert to contest two legs over 12 special stages and a total of 262 kilometres of timed sections.
A few days after the end of Rally Sweden, Khalid Al Qassimi finds himself back in much more familiar conditions. Alongside his new co-driver for this season, Chris Patterson, the Abu Dhabi driver is aiming for an excellent result in his Citroën DS3 RRC: “My goal, as will be the case at all rounds of the championship, is to be fighting at the front. This event is considered to be very difficult because of the kind of gravel stages here. You therefore need to find the right balance between attacking and managing your pace, especially if you want to avoid picking up punctures. Our preparations have been good over the last few days; the test sessions gave the opportunity to get my bearings again in the DS3 RRC.”
Alongside Al Qassimi, five young Emirati drivers will also be competing in the event in Citroën DS3 R3s. After a good first season spent learning about rallying at this level, Mohamed Al Mutawaa and Mohamed Al Sahlawi will be hoping to make their experience count. They will also serve as a benchmark for the three rookies selected in December at the Yas Marina circuit. After undergoing extensive preparations over the last two months, Saeed Bintouq, Juma Al Falasi and Mansoor Bel Helei will now get their first taste of competitive action!
“This programme is about creating opportunities for and training a new generation of drivers. We hope to help them reach a level from which they will be able to pursue their career by themselves,” emphasized Khalid Al Qassimi. “Thanks to the team’s experience and the expertise of their respective co-drivers, they will be able to learn and progress. It’s more about them seizing this opportunity than trying to break any speed records. I would be pleased if they make it to the end of this first rally. That would prove that they have the capacity to take on board information and develop their talent when they are under pressure.”
“Citroën Racing is competing in the Middle East Rally Championship for the second year running,” added Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “We hope that the experience acquired by Khalid during the 2013 season will enable him to fight for the title. It will also be a new stage for the young drivers that we selected with Abu Dhabi Racing. Having five DS3 R3s taking part in this rally shows not only the increasing strength of our partnership, but also the development of motorsport in the Middle East.”
ABU DHABI CITROËN WORLD RALLY TEAM CREWS
2. Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson (Citroën DS3 RRC)
8. Mansoor Bel Helei/Khalid Al Kendi (Citroën DS3 R3)
10. Saeed Bintouq/Allan Harryman (Citroën DS3 R3)
14. Mohamed Al Mutawaa/Stephen McAuley (Citroën DS3 R3)
15. Juma Al Falasi/John Higgins (Citroën DS3 R3)
16. Mohamed Al Sahlawi/Craig Parry (Citroën DS3 R3)
2014 FIA MERC CALENDAR
20/02: Qatar International Rally
20/03: Kuwait International Rally
01/05: Jordan Rally
29/08: Rally of Lebanon
19/09: Cyprus Rally
27/11: Dubai International Rally
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Rally Report Magazine Argentina
Photos: André Lavadinho
Categories: Rally Report Magazine Argentina 14 años