Doha: Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will be hoping to lay his hands on a 14th FIA Middle East Rally Championship title in 16 years at next weekend’s Kuwait International Rally to enable him to focus on winning the Manateq International Rally of Qatar for a 14th time two weeks later.
Czech driver Vojtech Stajf stands in the Qatari’s way in Kuwait and will be pushing hard to try and become the first non-Arab driver in the history of the championship to seal the overall title.
Since the championship’s inception in 1984, only eight Arab drivers have ever won the series, with Saeed Al-Hajri sealing the inaugural victory in 1984 and the likes of Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Mamdouh Khayat, Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani, Abdullah Bakhashab, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and the late Misfer Al-Marri following in his wake.
Meanwhile, Lebanese rally driver Henry Kahy and his Jordanian navigator Musa Djiyerian will be hoping that everything goes to plan and they are able to wrap up the 2018 MERC 3 Rally Championship title at the Kuwait International Rally on November 1-3.
The pair have tackled a full programme of regional MERC 3 events this season and three consistent finishes in Jordan, Lebanon and Cyprus have given Kahy a 49-point lead in the title race.
In his first full season of regional rallying, Kahy secured victory in Jordan and third places at the other two rounds at the wheel of his Škoda Fabia 1.6, a car built by Škoda Motorsport and running in the RC4 class.
The Fabia will feature the yellow livery of SEG Qatar for the last two rounds of the series where additional support comes from Michelin, Total Oils, el-Baharri and MMS Racing.
Lebanon’s Rony Kanaan and Cypriot racer Panayiotis Xenophontos claimed their points for respective MERC 3 successes at the Rally of Lebanon and the Cyprus Rally, where Kahy’s consistent finishing proved decisive.
Djiyerian, who acted as the Competition Liaison Officer at the recent Jordan Baja, is the nailed on favourite to wrap up the MERC 3 Co-drivers’ Championship for the second time. He won the series last year with close Jordanian friend Asem Aref.
The Manateq International Rally of Qatar will start and finish at Souq Waqif in downtown Doha with the ceremonial start planned for 7 pm on September 15.