Omani drivers in fray at Qatar rally

Oman Rally Sohar International postponed to Feb 25

MUSCAT, JAN 27
Abdullah al Rawahi, Zakariya al Aufi and Zakaria al Amri will be the three Omani Rally drivers in action at the Qatar International rally, the first round of Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) 2021.
The rally will start in Al Khor area in Qatar on January 29.
While Abdullah will compete in the main category, Al Aufi and Al Amri will try their luck in Group N category.
The event will start with a 3 km super special stage in Qatara, where the spectators will have a chance to view the talent of rally champions.
The race stage will be hosted in Al Khor area where 10 stages will showcase the rally drivers experience and skills over two days of hard competition between champions like Nasser al Attiyah and AbdulAziz Al Kuwari and Kris Meeke.
Oman’s Abdullah al Rawahi along with Navigator Atta al Hamood from Jordan is aiming to keep up the performance of the last year when he finished runner-up in Muscat.
He said: “It is not easy this year especially in Qatar to be on the podium because there are many good drivers and the competition is very strong. The stages are very tricky and we should be very careful with it, but I hope for a positive result.”
Another Omani driver, Zakria al Aufi, on Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX with co-driver Ammar al Balushi is looking forward to putting his name on top of the results as he will be competing again with some experienced names this year.
Al Aufi said he is hoping for a place in the podium, but added its always difficult in Qatar to win.
“We had some good hard practice sessions. The stages are tough and can expect few punctures also during the stages in Al Khor,” the Oman rally champion said.
Zakaria al Amri with his navigator Mohamed al Mazroui on Subaru Impreza N14 had finished third last year in Qatar international rally (local group).
The Omani duo is looking to replicate the same form of last year on his new car which he is driving for the first time in a rally.
Al Amri said: “The car we bought currently has been tested and we need to do some setups before entering the rally. Let us hope for better results and gear up for Oman International Rally in next month.”
Aufi finished fourth overall behind Nasser Saleh al Attiyah, Abdullah al Rawahi and Nasser Khalifa al Attiyah to pip Meshari al Thefiri to the MERC 2 section win in Oman last year and that was sufficient to see the Omani finish the shortened season in second place in the rankings.

OAA DELAYS RALLY BY A WEEK
The Oman Automobile Association (OAA) will hold its premium rally event, Oman Sohar International Rally, from February 25 to 27 after a week’s delay due to the implementation of the Covid-19 medical protocols.
The Oman International Rally, newly branded as Oman Sohar International Rally, the second round of the MERC, was originally scheduled for February 18 to 20.
The one-week delay will help the teams, especially from outside the Sultanate, to confirm their participation.
The rally will attract the likes of Qatar’s world champion Nasser al Attiyah, Omani youth sensation Abdullah al Rawahi and veteran Omani champion Hamad al Wahaibi, who is making a return to the sport.
Abdullah will participate in R5 category in his Ford Fiesta along with the top drivers including Qatari giants Nasser al Attiyah, Nasser Khalifa al Attiyah and Abdulaziz al Khuwari, British champion Kris Meeke and Khaled al Suwaidi.
Zakaria al Aufi, champion in N class in the last Oman International Rally, will compete on Mitsubishi Evo 9, young contestant Zakaria al Amiri with compete in his Subaru Impreza N40 in N class.
There are possibilities of participation of and Shaikh Suhaim al Thani from Qatar, in addition to Kuwaiti N class champion Mishari al Dhafiri.

 

Anuroop Athiparambath