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MENAFN - Qatar News Agency - 20/03/2014
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(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Three of the top four seeds for this weekend's Kuwait International Rally, round two of the 2014 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), are previous winners of the event.



That statistic alone has set the scene for a titanic battle across 13 special stages, starting with a short super special at the recently opened Sirbb karting circuit from 17.50hrs on Thursday evenin



Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is the favourite for victor



The Qatari won here in 2009, 2011 and 2013 and claimed an 11th victory in his home event last month to snatch a seven-point lead in a regional championship he has won nine times in the last 11 year



Al-Attiyah has 51 MERC victories to his name and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini has 22. They will be hard to beat in a Ford Fiesta RR



"No problems for us on the recce, the stages are quite nice, nothing really to worry about," said Al-Attiyah adding; "It rained this morning, but not too much and, if anything, it adds to the grip." Abu Dhabi Racing's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassmi will be trying to overhaul the Qatar



Winner in Kuwait in 2010, the 2004 regional champion fronts a 39-strong Abu Dhabi Racing Team that has entered six Citro?ns in the event - a DS3 RRC for Al-Qassimi and five two-wheel drive DS3 R3s for Abu Dhabi Racing-Citro?n Middle East Trophy leader Mohamed Al-Mutawee and rivals Mohamed Al-Sahlawi, Juma Al-Falaisi, Saeed Bintowq and Mansoor Belhela



"The stages are lovely, smooth, flowing and a pleasure to work with," said Al-Mutawee's Ulster co-driver Allan Harryman, who joined many of the competitors on Tuesday afternoon to recce the Sirbb special stage in on-site electric cars and take time to visit the new Kuwait historic and classic car museum at the circui



"But, there are a couple of places we have marked in our notes where two tracks cross on the fourth and seventh stages and this could be a bit tricky and needs a caution." Yazeed Al-Rajhi is on a roll at the moment and is virtually tackling an event every week in a hectic rallying programm



The winner of the Kuwait Rally when it ran as a candidate round in 2008, Al-Rajhi has a comfortable lead in the 2014 FIA World Cup after taking wins in Russia and Italy and also won the inaugural Rally Jeddah this yea



The Saudi was fourth in the opening MERC round after early problems and needs at least a podium finish to keep his title hopes alive

 


Qatar News Agency




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