By Sports Reporter/Doha
Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) will host the Qatar International Rally championship from January 28 to 30. The three-day event will be season opening round of the 2021 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC). “Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation is proud to announce the hosting of the First Round of FIA Middle East Rally Championship 2021 which will take place on 28th to 30th January 2021,” QMMF said in a statement released yesterday.
“QMMF are now starting to prepare for the Qatar International Rally 2021 and we are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to improve our competitors and spectators value and satisfaction amidst the pandemic issues we are currently facing,” the QMMF added in the statement.
Held since 1984, MERC opens up an exceptional playground for rally drivers and teams on a varied terrain featuring sand deserts and overheated tarmac.
Qatar’s rallying icon Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah has featured in the MERC since 2003 and holds the record for most number of titles – 16, the last 10 of which have come in successive seasons.
Al-Attiyah had equalled Mohamed bin Sulayem’s record of 14 title wins in 2018 when he placed his Ford Fiesta R5 on the top spot of the leaderboard. In 2019 he grabbed a record-extending sixth victory, sealing his 15th title win in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. The Qatari and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel have shown indisputable domination in recent years winning titles around the world.
The 2020 season was a start-stop affair with rallies – in Oman and Cyprus – getting completed whereas races in Qatar and Jordan were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe since mid-February this year.
Al-Attiyah and Baumel won races in Oman (Feb 6-8) and Cyprus (Oct 16-18) and when the Lebanon event got cancelled in November, the two rallying stars were declared winners of the MERC 2020 edition.
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