Qatar International Rally set to launch 2021 merc in January

– Ceremonial start and super special to be staged at Katara

The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) will host the opening round of the 2021 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) again on January 28-30, 2021.

After a 2020 season that was decimated by the global Covid-19 situation, which saw rounds of the regional rally series in Qatar, Jordan and Lebanon all cancelled, officials in Doha are delighted to announce that the Qatar International Rally will run again for the first time since March 2019.

A stalwart in the MERC since the series developed from the Gulf Rally Championship in 1984, the Qatar event has been one of the most popular and demanding rounds of the series with its challenging desert terrain and rigorous special stages.

The 2021 event will be based at the Lusail Sports Arena and features a sealed surface super special and two subsequent legs of four and six further gravel stages in the Qatar deserts. There will be 208.78 competitive kilometres in a route of 608.17km, pending forthcoming route checks.

The pre-event press conference (19.15hrs), ceremonial start (20.15hrs) and the opening super special stage (21.30hrs) will take place at Katara on Thursday, January 28.

After the following two days of desert stages, the post-event press conference (18.30hrs) and podium finish (18.45hrs) will be held at Katara on Saturday, January 30.

This year’s rally will be held under the chairmanship of QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, senior committee member Abdulrazaq Al-Kuwari and the QMMF’s new Executive Director Amro Al-Hamad. Portugal’s Pedro Almeida will work as the Clerk of the Course alongside his deputy, Rashed Al-Sulaiti.

« It’s been a hard year with all the cancellations of motor sport events around the globe, » said QMMF Executive Director Amro Al-Hamad. « We are coping in this new normal perfectly and taking one challenge at a time. We managed to seal our National Baja and Sprint Championship and learnt a lot organising such events at times like these we are going through. At the QMMF, we are confident of delivering a successful 2021 Qatar International Rally. »

Regulations are now available (subject to FIA approval) and entries close at reduced rates on December 31 with the final date for applications set for January 13.

Neil Perkins,