Doha, Qatar: The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) will host the Manateq International Rally of Qatar, the finale to the 2018 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, on November 15-17.
Formerly the opening round of the prestigious regional rallying series, this year’s revised three-day event will decide the outcome of the championship with Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah – a winner of the Qatar International Rally on 13 occasions - bidding for a 14th regional title in 16 years and trying to prevent Czech driver Vojtech Štajf from snatching a first ever series win. The duo are separated by 32 points before the fourth round in Kuwait at the start of November.
Based out of the new QMMF offices at Losail Sports Arena and in close proximity to the Losail International Circuit, the event will feature 207.24 competitive kilometres and 10 special stages in a route of 639.84km.
The rally will be held under the chairmanship of QMMF President Abdulrahman Al Mannai and senior committee members Sultan Al-Muraikhi and Abdulrazaq Al Kuwari. Portugal’s Pedro Almeida will act as Rally Director and works alongside Qatari Clerk of the Course Rashed Al Sulaiti.
Exciting revisions include a new start and finish location at Souq Waqif in downtown Doha. The ceremonial start is planned for 19.00hrs on Thursday, September 15 and the finish will take place from 18.40hrs on November 17. The pre-event press conference will also take place prior to the start at Souq Waqif.
The route has been modified by Al-Sulaiti and his team and longer new stages are a feature of the itinerary and there are three challenging new specials in the north of Qatar.
The second day's action will be fought out over two runs through the Eraida (17.02km) and Al-Dhakira (18.90km) stages, while Saturday’s timetable includes two runs through a new northerly Al-Khor special (18.45km), Al-Ghariyah (21.34km) and the longest Al-Ruwais (27.91km) timed test.
Al Mannai said: “This is a special year for us and we are looking forward to an exciting rally, especially since Nasser will have a chance to break the championship record.
“We are proud of our partnership with our main sponsor Manateq and we are grateful to Souq Waqif for allowing us to host this exciting and prestigious championship in the heart of the souq. This is part of our strategy to bring the most exciting motor sporting events in the region to the people.”
Al Sulaiti added: “We are also very excited to be introducing three new special stages in the north of Qatar to our flagship round of the regional rally championship.”
Entries are now officially open and close on Wednesday, October 31.