Qatar: The path to world sleeve

© DR

– World class Losail international circuit facility to host overnight bivouacs

– Entries for QMMF’s Sealine Rally officially close on Thursday, March 31

– Opening selective section to start by historic military fort at Al-Zubarah


Officials at the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) are delighted to announce a radically modified and longer route to challenge competitors in this year’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally, round three of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup and round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, taking place on April 16-22.

The opening leg will start out of the Losail international circuit on Monday April 18 and the first of five selective sections will run for 226.42km (25km longer than 2015) from the new location of a stunning ancient fort at Al-Zubarah to a finish at Losail. The historic Qatari military fort is situated on the northwest of the peninsula and was built under the oversight of Sheikh Abdullah bin Qassim Al-Thani in 1938.

The subsequent four selective sections will be around 50km shorter than last year, although the new terrain to the north makes up 30% of the route and will be used later in the rally.

Amendments have been made across the board and the new route outlined in the appendix to the unofficial supplementary regulations features further selective sections from Losail that run across the State of Qatar for 345.89km, 355.49km, 354.75km and 350.94km, respectively, on April 19-22.

The second section starts at Al-Kharrara and the third, fourth and fifth competitive sections get underway from Sealine, Al-Shabana and Rawdat Rashid, respectively. Sand dunes will be present, either close to the start or near the finish, on every competitive stage and the navigation remains as tricky as ever.

Tthe QMMF has planned 1,633.49km of competition in a total route of 2,435.63km. Just over 67% per cent of the entire route is, therefore, timed against the clock for cars, motorcycles and quads.

The bivouac has been moved to the Losail International circuit for the first time and will enable competitors and officials to benefit from the world-class facilities on offer at the race circuit. This will do away with the need for additional office and administration infrastructure, temporary toilet and catering areas and a watered desert area to use for the Service Park and car parking.

“The team we have in place at the QMMF has built up considerable experience of running first rate cross-country rallies and I am looking forward to being involved in one of the most demanding rallies in the FIA and FIM motor sport calendars,” enthused Abdulrahman Abdulatif Al-Mannai, the new president of the QMMF.

“Our team has listened to feedback from teams, media and international visitors and have continued to tweak and improve all aspects of the rally. The terrain in Qatar is varied and challenging and we have a reputation for offering some of the most difficult navigation for riders and co-drivers anywhere in the world.

“I extend a special thanks to His Highness the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al-Thani, and His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, without whom this event would not have been possible.”

Portugal’s Pedro Almeida will act as clerk of the course once again for the auto event, with Jaime Santos working on the complex road book. Iain Black is the clerk of the course of the motorcycle event and Karl-Heinz Holtz is his deputy.

Victories last year in the car, motorcycle and quad categories fell to two-time Dakar winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Mini All4 Racing), Spaniard Marc Coma on a works KTM and the Polish quad rider Rafal Sonik.

Administration checks, scrutineering, the initial briefing and the pre-event press conference will take place at Losail on Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17. The final deadline for entries has been set for Thursday, March 31st.

Neil Perkins,