Six-time champion Al Attiyah leads an impressive field for the Oman Rally

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Muscat: Record-breaking regional rally champion and six-time former event winner Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah leads an impressive field for next weekend’s Oman Rally Sohar International 2022, the inaugural round of the FIA ​​Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).

After claiming a 17th regional title following the cancellation of the Kuwait event, Al Attiyah is absent from hosting the Sultanate’s premier special stage event in 2020, returning to the country where he played in 2003-2006, 2015 and 2020 had six victories.

As usual, the Qatari joins Mathieu Baumel to drive a Volkswagen Polo GTI, operated by Autotek Motorsport.

Al Attiyah faces competition from four R5 cars and the remaining entry of MERC2 and Group A cars at the start of a six-round championship that will also visit Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Cyprus.

The Qatari expects a tough challenge on the occasion from last year’s winner Abdullah Al Rawahi in his SRT Škoda Fabia Evo and Hamed Al Wahaibi, who tested his Škoda Fabia Evo this week before returning to the series after competing in Jordan and Cyprus in 2022 year 2021.

Czech rider Petr Kačirek is making his MERC debut alongside Václav Kopáčekin in Duck Racing’s Škoda Fabia Evo.
Kačirek has been a regular on the Czech national rally scene for several seasons and has driven a variety of rally cars including the Škoda Fabia, various Subarus and even a BMW 3.0 CS in the Rally Bohemia Historic Rally and TipCars Pražský Rallysprint in 2016 Petr took part in competed in several national rallies in the United Arab Emirates in recent seasons, winning both the Al Thaid and Umm Al Quwain events in 2021 and the Al Thaid Rally in 2020.

His co-driver Kopáček is also a driver himself and has competed in numerous national rallies in the Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates, winning the Sharjah Rally in 2020 and taking four third places in events in the United Arab Emirates in 2021.

Driving a fifth R5 – a Ford Fiesta – at the head of the field, former MERC runner-up Nasser Khalifa Al Atya joins experienced Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini, himself a 25 MERC rally winner alongside Al Attiyah. Al Atya finished third overall in Oman in 2020 and second behind Al Rawahi in 2021.

Five Omani and two Jordanian riders will compete for MERC2 honors in Oman. In the absence of defending champion Meshari Al Thefiri, Zakariya Al Aamri, Faisal Al Rashdi and Jarah Al Touqi are leading the way for the host nation in a trio of Subaru Imprezas.

They are joined by compatriots Haitham Al Zadjali and Ghaith Al Qassimi in two Mitsubishi Lancer Evos, and Jordanian duo Ihab Al Shorafa and Abu Jamous Issa in similar Lancers.

At the back of the field are Oman’s Musab Al Zadjali and Haitham Al Hadidi in a Kia Rio and a Toyota Yaris, and Lebanon’s Alain Nawfal in a T3 Yamaha YXZ 1000 R.

Administrative checks will take place at the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) on Wednesday (26 January) with scrutineering scheduled for Thursday morning at the nearby Sandan Titanium for Cars dealership.

The ceremonial start takes center stage at Al Mouj on Thursday evening from 18:15 before two days of action on the Sultanate’s famous flowing gravel roads.

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