New National Rally Championship to boost UAE Motor Sport

New National Rally Championship to boost UAE Motor Sport

28.07.2013: Sulayem launches UAE Desert Championship to secure future of rallying, capitalise on natural

Sulayem launches UAE Desert Championship to secure future of rallying,  capitalise on natural assets for cross country events




Caption:   The new UAE Desert Championship is open to cars, bikes, quads and buggies



Motor sport in the UAE will be given a fresh boost later this year with the launch of a new national rally championship designed to capitalise on the country’s spectacular natural assets for the staging of cross country events.


The UAE Desert Championship is being introduced to safeguard the future of rallying on a national basis, and in doing so will take the country’s original motor sport discipline to a new level.


It meets a growing demand from the country’s motor sport fraternity for a new series of highly competitive events run in a natural environment, with an emphasis on safety.


The inaugural 2013-14 series will consist of four Baja-style events taking place in October, November, January and February, with categories for cross country cars, cross country buggies, motor cycles and quads.




The new championship is being organised by the Emirates Motor Sport Federation with the full support of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the national motor sport authority.


It signifies the beginning of a new sporting partnership between the two organisations, just three months after the appointment of ATCUAE President Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem as the EMSF President in a move initiated by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.


“Firstly, I’d like to thank Sheikh Marwan Rashed Al Mualla for his hard work and commitment during his tenure as the EMSF President,” said Sulayem, announcing the UAE Desert Championship today.


“This new championship will be bigger and better than any previous national rally series, and I’m sure many UAE competitors will be as excited by it as we are,”


“The emphasis will be on staging events which are both safe, and challenging, and take advantage of the fact that, in the UAE, we have the best playground in the world for this type of motor sport. Our main objective is to give a new lease of life to rallying in the UAE, and ensure it has a bright future after falling behind in recent years while other areas of motor sport have flourished.”


The origins of UAE motor sport are traced back to the first rallies staged in the 1970s, leading to the launch of the Dubai International Rally, the nation’s longest running international sporting event.




While the event will be staged for the 35th time in November and remains the climax of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, the former national rally championship lapsed several years ago, leaving a gap in the motor sport calendar.


Filling the void, the UAE Desert Championship will also form a natural link into the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which marks its 24th edition next April as a round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies, and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship for motor bikes and quads.


“They will complement each other,” said Sulayem. “Up until now, the Desert Challenge was the only cross country rally in the UAE. It meant there was a lack of incentive for people to buy cross country rally vehicles, and limited opportunities for them to attract and reward sponsors.


“The new championship solves those problems, and also offers a series of events which can be used as training and preparation for the much longer stages of the Desert Challenge.”


New EMSF General Secretary Atiq Hassan Mubarak said: “We know that there are a good number of competitors who will respond immediately. More importantly, there are more who will be prepared to invest in competition vehicles once the new series proves to be well conducted and sustainable.”


“It’s difficult to estimate the number of competitors for the first season, but we should quickly get to the stage where we’re attracting around 25 cars, 80 bikes and quads and at least 50 buggies.


“It will take time to establish the buggies. There have been few competitive events for these up until now. But there are over 5,000 buggies in the UAE alone, and a lot of buggy owners will be excited by the chance to compete in professionally organised motor sport events which make safety a priority.”


The UAE Desert Championship will incorporate three kind of event formats, starting with short track rallies with a marked route, run over around six laps of approx 20kms each, ideally suited to the deserts of Dubai and the Northern Emirates.


The deserts of Abu Dhabi, and in particular the dramatic terrain of the Western Region - home of the Desert Challenge – will be used to stage medium track events run over five laps of approximately 40kms, and long track events of around 200kms. Both will require GPS to navigate the route.


Over the years, the Desert Challenge has maintained a proud safety record, using teams of doctors and nurses to tend to injuries and cases of dehydration, and advanced medical cover will be a feature of the new series. Similarly, the championship will carry a strong commitment to the environment, with competitors who ignore a strict environmental code - already in force for the Desert Challenge - facing time penalties and fines, and ultimate disqualification.





2013-14 UAE Desert Championship calendar:

Round 1: October 11
Round 2: November 15
Round 3: January 31
Round 4: February 14-15.



- Tony Lewis, Total Communications Dubai - also photos

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/national-rally-championship-boost-uae-motor-sport-mohammed-sulayem---113938.html

28.07.2013 / MaP

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